While Cosmos may not have lived up to Fox’s ratings expectations, it was still a humbling primer on our vast, marvelous universe. Neil deGrasse Tyson played host as he explored our “cosmic address,” voyaging from our home planet, our solar system, our galaxy, out to the fringes of the observable universe. Never ones to be upstaged by some slick CGI and an imaginary spaceship, earlier this week NASA released a gallery of beautiful images showing off our wonderful cosmos.
Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey is a new incarnation of the classic and beloved 1980 science series hosted by the late Carl Sagan. The original version inspired many a youngster who has since gone on to a career in science, and hopefully Fox’s new version will do the same (assuming they don’t cancel it sometime in the next 15 minutes). The first episode kept things pretty basic, focusing on the vast scale of our universe, the story of persecuted Renaissance visionary Giordano Bruno, and Tyson’s own tale of his relationship with Sagan, who became a mentor of sorts to the noted astrophysicist and science advocate. Cosmos airs Sunday nights at 9/8c on Fox.
You can check out some of our favorite shots from NASA’s Flickr gallery below. It includes some of the more stunning space images from the past couple of years. You can click each of the pictures for a larger version. Hello, new desktop wallpaper…
In this composite image, visible-light observations by NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope are combined with infrared data from the ground-based Large Binocular Telescope in Arizona to assemble a dramatic view of the well-known Ring Nebula. Credit: NASA, ESA, C.R. Robert O’Dell (Vanderbilt University), G.J. Ferland (University of Kentucky), W.J. Henney and M. Peimbert (National Autonomous University of Mexico)
This spectacular, vertigo inducing, false-color image from NASA’s Cassini mission highlights the storms at Saturn’s north pole. The angry eye of a hurricane-like storm appears dark red while the fast-moving hexagonal jet stream framing it is a yellowish green. Low-lying clouds circling inside the hexagonal feature appear as muted orange color. A second, smaller vortex pops out in teal at the lower right of the image. The rings of Saturn appear in vivid blue at the top right. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SSI
This brand new Hubble photo is of a small portion of one of the largest seen star-birth regions in the galaxy, the Carina Nebula. Towers of cool hydrogen laced with dust rise from the wall of the nebula. The scene is reminiscent of Hubble’s classic ‘Pillars of Creation’ photo from 1995, but is even more striking in appearance. The image captures the top of a three-light-year-tall pillar of gas and dust that is being eaten away by the brilliant light from nearby bright stars. The pillar is also being pushed apart from within, as infant stars buried inside it fire off jets of gas that can be seen streaming from towering peaks like arrows sailing through the air. Credit: NASA, ESA, and M. Livio and the Hubble 20th Anniversary Team (STScI)
JANUARY 9, 2014: The vibrant magentas and blues in this Hubble image of the barred spiral galaxy M83 reveal that the galaxy is ablaze with star formation. The galactic panorama unveils a tapestry of the drama of stellar birth and death. The galaxy, also known as the Southern Pinwheel, lies 15 million light-years away in the constellation Hydra. Credit: NASA, ESA, and the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)
The Cat’s Eye Nebula, one of the first planetary nebulae discovered, also has one of the most complex forms known to this kind of nebula. Eleven rings, or shells, of gas make up the Cat’s Eye. The full beauty of the Cat’s Eye Nebula is revealed in this detailed view from NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope. The image from Hubble’s Advanced Camera for Surveys (ACS) shows a bull’s eye pattern of eleven or even more concentric rings, or shells, around the Cat’s Eye. Each ‘ring’ is actually the edge of a spherical bubble seen projected onto the sky — that’s why it appears bright along its outer edge. Credit: NASA, ESA, HEIC, and The Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)
The dwarf galaxy NGC 4214 is ablaze with young stars and gas clouds. Located around 10 million light-years away in the constellation of Canes Venatici (The Hunting Dogs), the galaxy’s close proximity, combined with the wide variety of evolutionary stages among the stars, make it an ideal laboratory to research the triggers of star formation and evolution. Intricate patterns of glowing hydrogen formed during the star-birthing process, cavities blown clear of gas by stellar winds, and bright stellar clusters of NGC 4214 can be seen in this optical and near-infrared image. Credit: NASA, ESA, and the Hubble Heritage (STScI/AURA)-ESA/Hubble Collaboration
This illustration shows a stage in the predicted merger between our Milky Way galaxy and the neighboring Andromeda galaxy, as it will unfold over the next several billion years. In this image, representing Earth’s night sky in 3.75 billion years, Andromeda (left) fills the field of view and begins to distort the Milky Way with tidal pull. Credit: NASA; ESA; Z. Levay and R. van der Marel, STScI; T. Hallas; and A. Mellinger