Tagged: Earth

Milky Way and Stone Tree (2 pictures)

What’s that next to the Milky Way? An unusual natural rock formation known as Roque Cinchado or Stone Tree found on the Spanish Canary Island of Tenerife. A famous icon, Roque Cinchado is likely a dense plug of cooled volcanic magma that remains after softer surrounding rock eroded away. Majestically, the central band of our Milky Way Galaxy is visible arcing across the right of the above seven image panoramic mosaic taken during the summer of 2010. On the far right is the Teide volcano complete with a lenticular cloud hovering near its peak.

Milky Way Over Quiver Tree Forest

In front of a famous background of stars and galaxies lies some of Earth’s more unusual trees. Known as quiver trees, they are actually succulent aloe plants that can grow to tree-like proportions. The quiver tree name is derived from the historical usefulness of their hollowed branches as dart holders. Occurring primarily in southern Africa, the trees pictured in the above 16-exposure composite are in Quiver Tree Forest located in southern Namibia. Some of the tallest quiver trees in the park are estimated to be about 300 years old. Behind the trees is light from the small town ofKeetmanshoop, Namibia. Far in the distance, arching across the background, is the majestic central band of our Milky Way Galaxy. Even further in the distance, visible on the image left, are the Large andSmall Magellanic Clouds, smaller satellite galaxies of the Milky Way that are prominent in the skies of Earth’s southern hemisphere.

Earth at Night

This remarkably complete view of Earth at night is a composite of cloud-free, nighttime images. The images were collected during April and October 2012 by the Suomi-NPP satellite from polar orbit about 824 kilometers (512 miles) above the surface using its Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS). VIIRS offers greatly improved resolution and sensitivity compared to past global nightlight detecting instrumentation on DMSP satellites. It also has advantages compared to cameras on the International Space Station. While the space station passes over the same point on Earth every two or three days, Suomi-NPP passes over the same point twice a day at about 1:30am and 1:30pm local time. Easy to recognize here, city lights identify major population centers, tracking the effects of human activity and influence across the globe. That makes nighttime images of our fair planet among the most interesting and important views from space.