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NASA Astronomy Picture of the Day:

Clouds drift through the sky as the light fades near sunset in this three frame animated gif. The scene was captured on sol 145 beginning around 6:30pm local time by a camera on the Mars InSight lander. Of course, InSight's martian day, sol 145, corresponds to Earth calendar date April 25, 2019. Under the 69 centimeter (2.3 foot) diameter dome in the foreground is the lander's sensitive seismometer SEIS designed to detect marsquakes. Earthquakes reveal internal structures on planet Earth, and so tremors detected by SEIS can explore beneath the martian surface. In particular, two typical marsquakes were recorded by SEIS on May 22 (sol 173) and July 25 (sol 235). The subtle tremors from the Red Planet are at very low frequencies though, and for listening have to be processed into the audio frequency range. In the sped up recordings external noises more prevalent on cool martian evenings and likely caused by mechanical shifts and contractions have been technically dubbed dinks and donks.

NASA Astronomy Picture of the Day:

A sensitive video camera on a summit of the Vosges mountains in France captured these surprising fireworks above a distant horizon on June 26. Generated over intense thunderstorms, this one about 260 kilometers away, the brief and mysterious flashes have come to be known as red sprites. The transient luminous events are caused by electrical breakdown at altitudes of 50 to 100 kilometers. That puts them in the mesophere, the coldest layer of planet Earth's atmosphere. The glow beneath the sprites is from more familiar lighting though, below the storm clouds. But on the right, the video frames have captured another summertime apparition from the mesophere. The silvery veins of light are polar mesospheric clouds. Also known as noctilucent or night shining clouds, the icy clouds still reflect the sunlight when the Sun is below the horizon.

Photo by Stephane Vetter

NASA Astronomy Picture of the Day:

Stars are forming in Lynds Dark Nebula (LDN) 1251. About 1,000 light-years away and drifting above the plane of our Milky Way galaxy, the dusty molecular cloud is part of a complex of dark nebulae mapped toward the Cepheus flare region. Across the spectrum, astronomical explorations of the obscuring interstellar clouds reveal energetic shocks and outflows associated with newborn stars, including the telltale reddish glow from scattered Herbig-Haro objects seen in this sharp image. Distant background galaxies also lurk on the scene, buried behind the dusty expanse. This alluring view imaged with a backyard telescope and broadband filters spans about two full moons on the sky, or 17 light-years at the estimated distance of LDN 1251.

Photo by Ara Jerahian

NASA Astronomy Picture of the Day:

The Old Astronomer's Milky Way arcs through this peaceful northern sky. Against faint, diffuse starlight you can follow dark rifts of interstellar dust clouds stretching from the galaxy's core. They lead toward bright star Antares at the right, almost due south above the horizon. The brightest beacon in the twilight is Jupiter, though. From the camera's perspective it seems to hang from the limb of a tree framing the foreground, an apple tree of course. The serene maritime nightscape was recorded in tracked and untracked exposures on June 16 from Dover, Nova Scotia, planet Earth.

Photo by Kristine Richer

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