The totally eclipsed moon shines amid the dense stars of our Milky Way in a composite picture taken June 15 from the Alborz Mountains of Iran. The eclipsed moon glows orange-red due to indirect light from the sun, which becomes reddish as it passes through Earth's atmosphere.
Last week's lunar eclipse was the longest and deepest total lunar eclipse seen in more than a decade. The best viewing locations were eastern Africa, the Middle East, Central Asia, and the western tip of Australia.
Alaska's Yukon River branches into a tangle of tributaries as it nears the Bering Sea in a false-color satellite picture released June 17 by the European Space Agency.
The Yukon is North America's fifth longest river system, flowing about 1,982 miles (3,190 kilometers) from the northern border of British Columbia in Canada and across central Alaska before emptying into Norton Sound.
Image courtesy Envisat/ESA
"Ice Queen" Moon
Gully-like features add texture to Saturn's small moon Helene in a closeup image from NASA's Cassini orbiter taken June 18.
The picture of the icy moon—named for Helen of Troy—comes from Cassini's closest flyby yet, when the spacecraft flew within 4,330 miles (6,968 kilometers) of Helene's surface.
Image courtesy SSI/Caltech/NASA
Bands of mineral deposits curl through sand dunes in a high-resolution satellite picture of the Valles Marineris region of Mars released June 7 and taken by NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. Scientists studying the minerals have detected the chemical signatures of exotic components likely formed by water in Mars's distant past—including light-colored bands that may be made of opal.
Unfortunately for jewelry lovers, the Martian deposits are not likely to include gemstone quality rocks. But the bands may hold treasure of a different sort: Opals on Earth are known to preserve fossils and other biological evidence.
Image courtesy ASU/NASA
Black Hole Belch
An artist's rendering shows twin jets of high-energy gamma rays coming from a supermassive black hole—a re-creation of what scientists think happened when an actual black hole 3.8 billion light-years away consumed a star.
"The mass of the star fell into the black hole, but along the way it heated up and produced a burst of energy in the form of a powerful jet of radiation, [which] we were able to detect through space-based observatories," Joshua Bloom, an astronomer at the University of California, Berkeley, told National Geographic News on June 16.
Image courtesy Andrew Levan, University of Warwick
Like a gem buried in sand, the turquoise and emerald waters of a solar evaporation pond seem to emerge from the dunes of the Taklimakan Desert of China, as seen in a NASA satellite picture released June 19. The ponds allow miners to harvest potash, a potassium-based nutrient used in fertilizers.
In the prehistoric past, this region of the desert hosted a large, brackish lake, which left behind potash deposits as it dried up and vanished.
Image courtesy EO-1/NASA
The fine line between night and day—also known as the terminator—brings the cratered face of Mercury into sharp relief in a new color picture from NASA's MESSENGER orbiter released June 21.
The closest planet to the sun, Mercury spins around on its axis three times for every two orbits. This means that a year on Mercury lasts for half a day.