Best Space Pictures: Blood Moon, Auroras, and Rover Tracks

A Martian rover makes tracks and the moon turns blood red in this week's best space pictures.

A cherry tree sits under the stars in Japan.


The night sky presides over a cherry tree in Yamanashi Prefecture, Japan, on April 12.

The mayor of Tokyo presented 3,000 cherry trees to Washington, D.C., in 1912 as a sign of friendship between Japan and the U.S. The annual National Cherry Blossom Festival honors that gift.

Auroras light up the night sky near Stokksnes, Iceland, on April 12. Elisabetta Rosso captured the image—which she submitted to YourShot—the night before her birthday. (See more pictures of auroras.)

NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter caught the trail of tracks left by the Curiosity rover on April 11. The tracks, which run from the top left to the bottom third of the image, lead to a small 16-foot (5-meter) rise dubbed Mount Remarkable.

Researchers wanted a closer look at the rocky outcrop surrounding Mount Remarkable before deciding whether to have Curiosity drill for samples. (See "Mars Rover Curiosity Completes First Full Drill.")

NGC 3718 (at right) is a warped spiral galaxy embedded in the Ursa Major constellation. According to NASA, gravity exerted on NGC 3718 by its neighbor, NGC 3729 (at left), is probably responsible for the twisting and stretching of the galaxy's arms.

Astrophotographer Fred Herrmann submitted this image to YourShot on April 11. (Listen to how he gets the shot.)

A NASA satellite captured an image of Klyuchevskaya Volcano on Russia's Kamchatka Peninsula (map) on April 14.

Klyuchevskaya is a stratovolcano, known for eruptions that produce pyroclastic flows. Toxic gases and volcanic fragments characterize these flows, and can barrel down the side of a volcano at hurricane-force speeds. (See "Pictures: When Snow and Ice Meet Lava.")

On the night of April 14 and into the early hours of the next day, the moon turned blood red during a total lunar eclipse. It's the first of four consecutive total lunar eclipses to occur over the next year and a half, with the remaining three on October 8, 2014; April 4, 2015; and September 28, 2015.

Photographer Babak Tafreshi captured the event from the La Silla Observatory near Chile's Atacama Desert. (See "Lunar Eclipse Myths From Around the World.")