The bright lights of Venus (right) and Jupiter appear to draw closer in the sky over Saint Thaddeus Monastery in Iran on Monday night during this week's planetary conjunction. The two worlds-the brightest we're able to see with the unaided eye-were at their closest on Thursday, separated by only three degrees in the sky, or the width of two fingers at arms' length.
The planets' apparent proximity is an optical illusion-in reality, Venus is nearly 75.9 million miles (122 million kilometers) distant from Earth, and Jupiter sits about seven times farther away, at 524 million miles (844 million kilometers) from Earth. (Get the full story about the conjunction.)
An Inukshuk—a stone figure of a human—bears witness to the northern lights over Nunavut, Canada, on March 7, as seen in a recently released picture.
Such figurines can be found across the Arctic and have been traditionally used by the Inuit for various forms of communication, such as navigational aids, memorials, or markers of animal-migration routes.
The nebula known as IC 2169 appears as a pink cloud dotted with stars in a true-color picture taken from New Forest Observatory in the United Kingdom on March 10.
The cosmic cloud of dust and gas is a turbulent star-forming region in the constellation Monoceros, the Unicorn, a relatively faint grouping of stars that is best seen during winter in the Northern Hemisphere.
A new picture from the Hubble Space Telescope offers the most detailed view yet of Messier 9, a globular star cluster about 25,000 light-years from Earth. Released Friday, the picture shows more than 250,000 individual stars shining in the huge cluster.
Like other globular clusters, M9 is a roughly spherical swarm of stars loosely bound by gravity. But this cluster lies close to the heart of our Milky Way galaxy, and the gravitational influence of our galactic core is pulling the cluster slightly out of shape.
Image courtesy ESA/NASA
The distinct patterns of the city of Dubai are outlined in light in a nighttime picture taken February 22 from the International Space Station and released this week.
To the left, the human-made island called Palm Jumeira juts into the blackness of the Persian Gulf, while to the right the ultrabright Burj Khalifa Tower, the world's tallest building, shines amid the orange-hued coils of major roadways.