Looking like a row of planes taxiing on a runway, a chain of brewing storms on the coast of West Africa is ready for takeoff into the Atlantic Ocean in this photo taken by the Meteosat-9 weather satellite on August 29.
Every year from mid-August until October the hurricane season in the Northern Hemisphere kicks into high gear as the trade winds on either side of the Equator converge. The combination of heat from the African continent and the tropical moisture from the ocean creates the perfect recipe for the formation of tropical storms.
A newborn star announces its arrival by emitting a pair of colorful, high-speed jets of gas into space in this high-resolution image by a new giant radio telescope array called the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) in the high-altitude desert of Chile.
Located some 1,400 light-years from Earth, this baby star, known as HH46/47, sits near a giant dark cloud of gas and dust that provided the seed material from which it likely formed only a few hundred thousand years ago.
The jets of gas spew out at speeds that have been clocked at nearly 620,000 miles (a million kilometers) an hour. The shockwave from these jets plows into the gas and dust that surrounds the baby star-making the material light up like neon.
Streams of solar wind made up of charged particles coming off the surface of the sun slam into Earth's magnetic field, sparking auroral displays in the upper atmosphere.
The more directly these solar winds hit our planet, the more intense the sky show.
Photograph by Kristoffer Vaikla, National Geographic Your Shot
Like its namesake mythological monster, the Medusa nebula appears to sport a serpentine crown in this photo taken with a 27-hour-long exposure through a backyard telescope in Huntsville, Alabama. (See nebula pictures.)
Some 1,500 light-years distant, the hauntingly beautiful planetary nebula represents the final remnants of a long-dead star. The glowing cloud of gas and dust is constantly expanding and stretches four light-years across.
Photograph by Fred Herrmann and Terry Hancock, National Geographic Your Shot
Like a crown of cosmic jewels, a star-studded sky adorns Annapurna South, one of the highest Himalaya peaks in central Nepal.
Photograph by Marcia Pradipti, National Geographic Your Shot
Sculpting Star Clouds
Blasts of intense radiation emanating from some of the most massive stars known wreak havoc with the surrounding gas and dust in this stunning infrared view from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope.
Located some 8,000 light-years from Earth, the Eta Carinae star system shines with a power equivalent to that of five million suns.
The outflow of energy from just two monster stars at the center of the glowing cloud sculpts giant pillars of dust, while carving out enormous cavities in the surrounding nebula.
Photograph courtesy NASA/JPL-Caltech
The largest of the red planet's two moons, Phobos, glides across the face of the sun as seen in this sequence of snapshots taken from the Martian surface by the NASA Curiosity rover on August 17.
This unique annular solar eclipse from Mars, photographed using the one-ton rover's telephoto-lens camera attached to the top of its mast, is expected to help refine orbital calculations for the moon.
Photograph courtesy NASA/JPL-Caltech
What looks like a nearby cosmic head-on collision between two galaxies is actually just an optical illusion. The sprinkling of stars at the center of this Hubble Space Telescope image is actually a dwarf galaxy lying some 16 million light-years distant and filled with a few billion stars.
However, the bright twinkling stars scattered throughout the above photo are much closer, lying well within the border of our own much larger Milky Way galaxy, which contains some 400 billion suns.