As reported in today’s New York Times, the National Air and Space Museum is having an exhibit of photographs of our solar system by NASA and other agencies. Some pictures have been colorized or represent composites (the artist is Michael Benson), but they’re not phony. In fact, they’re stunning.
Captions taken from the Smithsonian website:
Erupting into space. An 86-mile-high volcanic plume explodes above the horizon of Jupiter’s moon Io. The plume is erupting over a caldera (volcanic depression), named Pillan Patera, after a South American god of thunder, fire, and volcanoes. Galileo, June 28, 1997.
Uranus and its rings. This remarkable picture shows the very faint rings of Uranus, which were discovered in 1977. Extremely dark, they may be made of innumerable countless fragments of water ice containing radiation-altered organic material. Uranus was the first planet discovered that was unknown to ancient astronomers. It was first sighted in 1781 by British astronomer William Herschel, using a homemade 15-centimeter telescope. Voyager, January 24, 1986.
Europa and the great red spot. Europa (upper right) is slightly smaller than Earth’s Moon. Jupiter’s Great Red Spot, a vast cyclonic storm system about two times the size of Earth, is surrounded by other oval storms and banded clouds. Multi-frame mosaic. Voyager 1, March 3, 1979
Jupiter, the largest planet. The Great Red Spot, a cyclonic storm system that has been raging for hundreds of years, is clearly visible in this portrait of Jupiter. Multi-frame mosaic. Cassini, December 29, 2000
An erupting prominence. Prominences are huge clouds of relatively cool, dense plasma suspended in the Sun’s hot, thin corona. Like this large, twirling prominence, they can sometimes erupt and escape the Sun’s atmosphere. SOHO, January 18, 2000