Top Ten Astronomy Pictures of 2010 – Runners Up

By Phil Plait | December 20, 2010 6:30 am

When I made my Top 14 Astronomy Pictures of 2010, it was really tough cutting some out. This is a gallery of the images that, for whatever reasons, I decided to leave off. They’re still spectacular and gorgeous, though! Click on the thumbnail in the slider to go to an image, use the arrows to navigate back and forth, and click on the big image displayed below to get more info and a bigger version if available.

akatsuki_firstlight
cassini_figure8moons
enceladus_afterburner
epoxi_hartley2_shadows
eso_ngc6118
hirise_avalanche_march2010
hirise_bullseyecrater
hst_ngc4452
hst_pgc39058
ibis_ca_sunspot
iss_tracydyson
lro_apolloimpact
lro_earth_americas
wesley_jupimpact_color

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Astronomy, Pretty pictures, Top Post

Comments (24)

  1. Eddie Janssen

    The first time I saw the double moon picture I thought Rhea was passing in front of Dione. Just because of the upper ridge of the crater . I thought it was part of the lower moon, not the upper moon!

  2. Román

    Yeah, I missed the picture from ISS in your first list. The only picture I’m missing from both lists is the one of the Earth and the Moon taken from Mercury orbit by… I can’t remember the spacecraft’s name, but I think that is an awesome pic, and that the fact that it can be taken is just as awesome.

  3. Sarah

    All Lovely. The ISS “copula” picture is still my desktop image. Wistful, it makes me.
    For Tracy’s return to Earth, see here: http://cryptome.org/info/soyuz-tma18/soyuz-tma18.htm

  4. Jeeves

    I wonder, if you went to the impact site of that Saturn V stage, would you find anything recognizable?

    Oh and ditto on having the cupola picture as a desktop image for that “space traveler looking back at her home planet” vibe. Which is just what it is, of course.

  5. I don’t know why everyone keeps trying to brighten up the ISS Cupola photo with astronaut Tracy Caldwell Dyson. I prefer to preserve the darker original image. It is much more dramatic to have just a slight hint of her entire body in the photo. It helps bring more attention to, what I feel is the real focal point, the image of the blue Earth reflected in her eye.

  6. OtherRob

    I agree with KurtMac. The darker original ISS Cupola shot is much more dramatic.

  7. MadScientist

    I saw the moons and was thinking of Les Grands Tetons rather than a microorganism. Later of course there was a shot of Mars’ aureole.

  8. Michael Swanson

    “We complain that we don’t have jetpacks and flying cars…”

    I don’t. People can’t drive well on the ground, between painted lines, and with helpful signs posted all about them. I would live every moment in terror if they could fly their SUVs over my house.

  9. Awesome images!

    I played around with the original “ISS copula” image to improve the lightning and colors without introducing noise: http://www.astrokraai.nl/dump/ba_astronaut_iss.jpg

  10. Charlie Foxtrot

    “…converted into a mind-numbing explosion which was the equivalent of a million one-megaton bombs!”

    and yet, when I see that photo, I can only hear “paf!”

  11. Sam H

    That woman in the cupola epitomizes everything I want the human race to achieve. Unfortunately, I’ve lost all faith in politics to be a positive force for change on a grand scale – especially after midterms and the failures of Copenhagen and Cancún. Peak oil will hit us in 15 years – my guess, if not sooner – and much of the world’s 8 billion inhabitants will suddenly be without food. I dunno if it’ll get as bad as nuclear war, but climate change’s exponential increase coupled with peak oil could doom our civilization. The world I’m growing up in won’t be a happy one.

    But still, I dream of the stars. I hope and dream for footprints and flags and colonies amongst the crimson dunes, for nanotube elevators 101,000 km high, and interstellar flights to alien earths. My hopes are probably worthless in the light of the aforementioned problems, but I’ve dreamed of it all my life. Even if the economics, politics, and rationale argue against colonization, I still dream. And I hope that we and our children can still make at least some of that dream come true.

    Ad astra per aspera.

  12. Tribeca Mike

    Nice photos and research by all. Thanks. By the by and mucho off topic, but have you noticed the numerous calls for the impeachment of Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli, online and off over the past week? The tide is rolling on and much credit is due to you.

  13. KAE

    The Photo of Tracy in the Cupola is absolutely fantastic!
    I finally had to admit that my iMac is no longer new and changed the default wallpaper.
    I chose this image.
    Thank you.

  14. MARTIAN BULLS-EYE
    Alien target practice, no doubt…

  15. Sarah

    I’m in the “dark is better” camp on this image. I first saw this image here:
    http://antwrp.gsfc.nasa.gov/apod/ap101115.html

    And the high-res ( click on the picture ) is the original dark one. Much more dramatic.

  16. Messier Tidy Upper

    Superluminous. Thankyou, Dr Plait, much appreciated. :-)

    Although there’s still so many more breath-taking one’s that could’ve made the cut this year.

  17. Messier Tidy Upper

    Like this one of Leo trio spiral galaxy, Messier 66, posted on June 21st, 2010 which is not just my personal favourite astronomy image from this year :

    http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/badastronomy/2010/06/21/gravitys-galactic-brushstrokes/

    bu, indeed, pretty much my fave of all-time.

    How in all the Cosmic Gulfs of Space did that photo not get in the top 24, BA!? :-o

    [Shakes head in bafflement.]

    Personally, I’d also have opted for this one :

    http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/badastronomy/2010/09/20/pluto-wanders-into-a-messier-situation/

    Of Pluto in the rich starfield of Messier 24 and dark nebulae Barnard 92 and 93 taken 2010 September 20th as well as this incredible one :

    http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/badastronomy/2010/08/05/saturn-and-the-nearest-star/

    Of Saturn and Alpha Centauri captured togther by Cassini on the 5th of August 2010.

    But I suppose it shows how much we’re all different and have our own subjective ideas and preferences.

  18. Messier Tidy Upper

    @2. Román Says:

    Yeah, I missed the picture from ISS in your first list. The only picture I’m missing from both lists is the one of the Earth and the Moon taken from Mercury orbit by… I can’t remember the spacecraft’s name, but I think that is an awesome pic, and that the fact that it can be taken is just as awesome.

    You mean MESSENGER surely? :

    http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/messenger/main/

    It’s not technically in Mercurian (Hermean? Hephaistosean?) orbit yet but it is well on the way to being the first spaceprobe to ever do so and is only the second after Mariner 10 to visit the innermost planet having flown past that world two or three times already.

    However, I can’t seem to find any post about MESSENGER imaging our Earth & Moon this year by the BA on it despite this long and rather odd listing in the “search” box:

    http://discovermagazine.com/search?SearchableText=MESSENGER&Submit.x=36&Submit.y=12

    About the closest thing to I can see is this old BA blog entry :

    http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/badastronomy/2006/04/20/messenger-moves-off/

    from back in April 2006 of its slingshot pass by Earth. [Puzzled.]

    Please can you elaborate further?

  19. Messier Tidy Upper

    Again – @2. Román :

    Yeah, I missed the picture from ISS in your first list. The only picture I’m missing from both lists is the one of the Earth and the Moon taken from Mercury orbit by… I can’t remember the spacecraft’s name,

    Or wait .. Aha! It wasn’t anywhere near Mercury but there might’ve been an image taken by the Rosetta spaceprobe like that this year.

    Let’s see .. There’s this :

    http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/badastronomy/2007/11/20/earth-from-rosetta/

    Great image incl. my hometown but, er, taken in 2007. So nup, can’t be.

    Then there’s this :

    http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/badastronomy/2009/11/12/rosetta-takes-some-home-pictures/

    Crescent Earth one which being Nov. 2009 made last years “BA’s best images” list rather than this years.

    But, wait, nothing matching your description via Rosetta this year but there was this one via the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter :

    http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/badastronomy/2010/09/16/from-the-moon-to-the-earth/

    Which the BA raved about but I must admit left me rather cold. Hey, tastes differ I guess. ;-)

  20. Messier Tidy Upper

    Or could you mean this one :

    http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/badastronomy/2010/06/11/the-cloudy-warming-earth/

    Of cloudy milky Earth seen from the GOES satellite back on June 11th 2010?

    Or the Deep Impact of glinting EPOXI, er water here :

    http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/badastronomy/2010/01/07/a-glint-from-earth/

    Taken from a greater distance back at the very start of this year on the 7th Jan?

    Or just maybe this :

    http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/badastronomy/2010/02/25/happy-anniversary-terra/

    Global mosic and multiple Earth’s seen from the artificial Terra in the sky from February?

    Any of these the one you were thinking of, Román? Guess if naught else it might’ve eliminated some possibilities ..

    Durn this nagging curiosity! I won’t be able to sleep till I know now! ;-)

  21. FC

    “Guess the World Picture”… AHA! That explains it then. In Space 1999, all of their windows and viewers were adjusted to show things in infrared! Which makes a lot of sense, you can see more in the infrared! And we thought it was a silly sci-fi show, turns out they had some advanced science on that space ship.

  22. Dave L

    I came to the comments planning to complain, but Messier Tidy Upper got there before me:

    “How in all the Cosmic Gulfs of Space did that photo not get in the top 24, BA!?”

    Precisely. The new Hubble close-up of M66 is my favorite APOD of all time. It’s my wallpaper, and I’d love to find a good poster of it.

    Don’t what exactly makes it so gorgeous – the galaxy’s rakish angle, the wash of hot-white stars seen through and (apparently) beneath the pinwheels of dust, the clusters of glowing red stars… just a beautiful, beautiful picture.

  23. Messier Tidy Upper

    Okay, I’m really stumped on this one. I was hoping (#2.) Román would return & explain some more or someone else would know which image was meant here :

    The only picture I’m missing from both lists is the one of the Earth and the Moon taken from Mercury orbit by… I can’t remember..

    But nup, nothing. :-(

    Beats me as there seems to be no such photo simultaeously :

    1) Showing earth and Moon together
    2) Taken this year (or justpossibly very late 2009?) &
    3) From a spacecraft (relatively) near Mercury.

    Does anyone have any idea which photo Román might’e been meaning? Because I could sure use some help tracking it down! Please?

  24. Messier Tidy Upper

    This one :

    http://www.universetoday.com/71503/messenger-looks-back-at-the-earth-and-moon/

    Seems to tick all the boxes – its easily the closest match so far – although there’s a slight issue in that it wasn’t posted by the BA on the Bad Astronomy blog but by the Universe Today one instead so I’m still not 100% certain on this – 95% maybe! Guess only Román can tell us for sure.

    Thanks to (#24) Buckley on the “favourite new lunar eclipse image” (December 22nd, 2010 11:59 a.m.) thread for that. :-)

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