"Our ancestors worshipped the Sun, and they were not that foolish.
It makes sense to revere the Sun and the stars, for we are their children.”
- Carl Sagan

February marked five years of operation for NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory and to celebrate the SDO team released some mind-blowing footage. The observatory acquired 200 million+ images over the years that show an unprecedentedly clear picture of how massive explosions on the Sun grow and erupt. I borrowed a few seconds of the footage to create this Vine but there is a lot more to see. Watch all the footage on NASA Goddard’s YouTube channel.

Music credit: Boards of Canada- “White Cyclosa”

The Orion Nebula

This photo shows a colour composite mosaic image of the central part of the Orion Nebula, based on 81 images obtained with the infrared multi-mode ISAAC instrument on the ESO Very Large Telescope (VLT) at the Paranal Observatory. The famous Trapezium stars are seen near the centre and the photo also shows the associated cluster of about 1,000 stars, approximately one million years old.

Credit: ESO/M.McCaughrean et al. (AIP)

Moon Phases, by Dana Gerhardt 

"We can slice the Moon’s cycle into as many phases as we want. Arabian, Indian, and Chinese astrologers divided the Moon’s orbit into 28 or 27 “mansions.” They noticed how each day of the lunar month had its own unique and recurring qualities. When I was growing up, most calendars, if they listed the Moon at all, identified just four phases: new, full, and the two quarter Moons. This information meant nothing to me at the time, but I heard it was useful to fishermen and gardeners. Today both astrologers and astronomers divide the lunation cycle into eight phases."


  - New Horizons visits Pluto on July 14, 2015, and it’s going to take hi-res pictures with its telescopic camera ! (The current best image of Pluto being this - taken by the hubble Space telescope)

New Horizons is the first space probe to be visiting Pluto, its moons, and other icy objects in the Kuiper Belt. The Kuiper Belt is considered an ancient relic of our solar system and thus is suspected to hold a great deal of insights on how planets form. New Horizons is expected to gain information about the surface, geology, interior makeup and atmosphere of Pluto and other Kuiper Belt objects it encounters. 

- Juno will arrive at Jupiter on June 26, 2016!

It  will study Jupiter’s origin, interior, atmosphere and magnetosphere. Notably, the space probe will be gathering clues as to what the inside of Jupiter is made up of – whether it has a solid core and how much water is present in its atmosphere. Juno will also directly sample the charged particles that make up planet’s auroras, while simultaneously observing them in ultraviolet.

Rosetta and Philae : how’s it going on Comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko?

Scientists are hopeful for Philae to eventually gain enough sunlight to power back on. Meanwhile, Rosetta continues to study the comet and its role in the evolution of the solar system. 

- The Mars Rovers are still exploring their envrionment : Curiosity and Opportunity are searching for evidences of a past presence on life

Akatsuki  will attempt to enter into an orbit around Venus at the end of 2015. Once there, Akatsuki will study the weather, atmosphere and surface of the planet. The mission also hopes to confirm the presence of active volcanoes and thunder on Venus.

- Hayabusa 2 is set to arrive at asteroid called “1999 JU3” on June 3, 2018.  The space probe intends to hurl an explosive impactor at the asteroid in order to create an artificial crater for studying its inside structure. Three hopping rovers and a small lander will also be sent to the surface of the asteroid to study it.

- The Gaia space probe is currently creating a detailed three-dimensional map of the Milky Way galaxy.

- DSCVR is set to arrive in its orbit on June 1, 2015, where it aims to provide early warnings of when dangerous solar storms might be headed our way, as well as measure Earth’s radiation environment. The space probe will be able to warn Earth 15 to 60 minutes before a solar storm hits.

Info gathered from!