Thanks to a vantage point 450 miles (725 kilometers) above the Earth, strange patterns caused by strong winds on the ocean's surface become visible in the play of sunlight on the water.
The rocky, volcanic islands redirect the strong northwest winds that come up against the coast, forming a wind shadow on the southwest side of the islands. This shadow creates distinct helical cloud trails and alternately smooth and choppy waters, which change how light is reflected.
"'Normal' photos tend to blur [auroras] and don't capture the true detail of these marvelous curtains, so to freeze the action as much as possible, I kept my exposure time to only a second," said photographer Dennis Mammana on The World At Night website.
Known collectively as Arp 142, the galactic pair lie some 326 million light-years from Earth in the constellation Hydra.
Over a period of millions of years, the celestial bird-shaped galaxy has lost its distinct pinwheel structure. Its red, spiral arms have become distorted by the pull of gravity from the neighboring elliptical, egg-shaped galaxy.
Above the pair is a lone, unrelated bluish galaxy located about 230 million light-years from Earth.
This portrait of one of the most popular safari destinations on the continent is a composite based on images taken by the European ENVISAT orbiter between September 2009 and October 2010.
The Moremi Game Reserve appears in purple at the center of the image, while in the lower right corner a cluster of reflections marks the town of Maun.
Image courtesy ESA
This high-resolution image of the craggy surface of Mercury, released June 20, was taken by the cameras aboard NASA's MESSENGER orbiter. Multiple impact craters with fresh ray patterns appear scattered across an ancient lava basin.
Slightly larger than Earth's moon, Mercury lacks a meaningful atmosphere, so there is nothing to stop impacts from occurring and covering its sun-scorched surface with craters.
Image courtesy JHUAPL/NASA
Where There's Smoke
The root cause of the record-setting pollution levels that have besieged Singapore this past week is clearly seen in this orbital photo from NASA's Aqua satellite taken on June 19.
Thick clouds of smoke originating from illegal wildfires on Sumatra (below, left) appear to blow straight toward southern Malaysia, where a choking haze of pollutants has blanketed Singapore. (Related: "Pollution in Singapore Hits Record Level.")