This is a compact star forming region in the constellation Cygnus (The Swan). A newly-formed star called S106 IR is shrouded in dust at the centre of the image, and is responsible for the the surrounding gas cloud’s hourglass-like shape and the turbulence visible within. Light from glowing hydrogen is coloured blue in this image. | image: NASA/ESA

A project thought to be one of the world’s longest animal research studies is celebrating its 50-year anniversary. The Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust’s (WWT) Bewick’s swan study is thought to be the only study in the world in which researchers recognise individual birds by their faces, rather than by ringing. (via Bewick’s swan 50th ‘swanniversary’ - in pictures | Environment |

Clouds in Cygnus

Cosmic clouds of gas and dust drift across this magnificent mosaic covering a 12x12 degree field within the high flying constellation Cygnus. The collaborative skyscape, a combination of broad and narrow band image data presented in the Hubble palette, is anchored by bright, hot, supergiant star Deneb, below center near the left edge. Alpha star of Cygnus, Deneb, is the top of the Northern Cross asterism and is seen here next to the dark void known as the Northern Coal Sack. Below Deneb are the recognizable North America and Pelican nebulae (NGC 7000 and IC 5070). Another supergiant star, Sadr (Gamma Cygni) is near the centerof the field just above the bright wings of the Butterfly Nebula. A line continuing up and right will encounter the more compact Crescent Nebula and finally the Tulip Nebula near the top of the frame. Most of these complex nebulosities are located about 2,000 light-years away. Along with the Sun, they lie in the Orion spiral arm of our Milky Way galaxy.

Image credit & copyright: Image Data - Bob Caton, Al Howard, Eric Zbinden, Rogelio Bernal Andreo; Processing - Rogelio Bernal Andreo


     Palmdale, California is a magical place for many aviation enthusiasts, housing the Lockheed Skunk Works, NASA Armstrong Flight Research Center, and Air Force Plant 42. Unfortunately, these facilities are difficult, or impossible for the public to gain access to. But one thing in Palmdale is free, and open to the public; Blackbird Airpark. This museum houses a U-2D, D-21B, two Blackbird aircraft and many historic artifacts that you can’t find anywhere else.

     The first photo in the set shows SR-71A #17973 on the left. This particular article will focus on A-12 #06924, shown on the right. #06924 represents the beginning of an era. On April 26, 1962, at Area 51, this aircraft became the first Blackbird ever to fly. Test Pilot Lou Schalk sped down the runway for the first time, lifting off a few feet, experiencing, in his words, “a little instability, both longitudinally and laterally”. The aircraft wobbled in flight for a few seconds, then immediately touched back down. On April 30, Lou made another attempt at flight, this time with the pitch, yaw and roll dampers turned on, which prevented this instability. Lou said, “The dampers make all the difference in the world, and the aircraft flies very smoothly.”

Rocket Launch Never Looked So Overwhelming Like This

The Orbital Sciences Corporation Antares rocket, with the Cygnus cargo spacecraft aboard, is seen in this false color infrared image, as it launches from Pad-0A of the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport (MARS), Wednesday, Sept. 18, 2013, NASA Wallops Flight Facility, Virginia. Cygnus is on its way to rendezvous with the space station. The spacecraft will deliver about 1,300 pounds (589 kilograms) of cargo, including food and clothing, to the Expedition 37 crew.

Image Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls