Beautiful and amazing things are happening in the universe all the time, but we miss most of them because they are too far away from Earth. Sometimes we are lucky enough, however, to cast our telescopes and cameras on a relatively nearby spot at just the right time and catch something magical, whether that equipment is on our planet’s surface or racing through our solar system.
Here are some of the times through the first half of 2017 that scientists and other observers were able to get a good look at the majesty of outer space.
Howling at the moonlet
Tiny moons barrel their way through Saturn’s rings in their close orbits around the planet, shoving aside dusty and icy materials along the way. In January, NASA’s Cassini spacecraft got the closest look ever at one of these “moonlets” while it was passing over the rings’ outer edges. This image shows Daphnis, with the force of its gravity creating waves in the ring material closest to it. The picture is also close enough to spot some craters on the small body’s surface.
In early July, NASA’s Juno spacecraft got closer to Jupiter’s Great Red Spot than any machine had before and the results were spectacular. The most recognizable spot on the gas giant is a swirling storm so large that Earth could easily fit inside it. This photo is an enhanced version of the raw photos Juno sent back to Earth.
You’re a star
It may not look like much, but this photo is one of the most detailed…