In the extreme east of the Democratic Republic of Congo lies the Nyiragongo crater: an active volcano that is so treacherous that it has killed many people who have tried to approach it. But its surpassing beauty keeps people trying, and The Big Picture documents a successful trip with incredible images:
This just shows the lava pit itself, but the other pictures show the people and the adventure they had getting to this terribly dangerous location. I don’t say this often, but it’s a must-see.
If you like astronomy pictures, but hate getting too many at once, then may I suggest a few astronomical advent calendars?
The (fantabulous) Big Picture is once again doing its Hubble Advent Calendar, featuring one amazing Hubble image every day until Christmas.
Speaking of which, the Hubble people have printable holiday cards featuring images on them, and they’re free!
And if you prefer your advents closer to home, Emily at The Planetary Society blog is doing one as well with solar system objects. Bonus: hers runs through January 1st! I’ve included a small version of her first pick here. Know what it is? Go to Emily’s page and find out!
Finally, the good folks at Zooniverse have a fun advent calendar that’s interactive; roll over the window to reveal the picture. Try to look at a future one and it just gives you a question mark! So no peeking.
I like this idea: it’s good way to promote astronomy and science, and makes people come back for more!
Magnificent: The Big Picture has a series of incredible pictures from the latest Soyuz and Shuttle missions to the International Space Station.
They are all amazing, but I think I like this one the best:
I know, it’s not what you’d think I’d pick, is it? But it shows astronaut Soichi Noguchi in the station’s cupola, taking one of his astonishing photographs that he posts on Twitter. Looking at this picture of him, and thinking of his incredible photos, really brings home the fact that humans are in space right now, circling the Earth over your head.
The Big Picture website is once again doing a Hubble Advent calendar: releasing a new picture from the great observatory once each day this month until Christmas. It’s a clever idea, and should get everyone clicking over there first thing to see what beauty he has chosen every day. His first choice: a butterfly-shaped planetary nebula image taken late last year. If he keeps this up, you’ll have two dozen gorgeous shots to drool over!
Speaking of the LHC, the Boston Globe’s terrific feature The Big Picture has a slew of gorgeous pictures of the Large Hadron Collider up on the site.
These images, as beautiful and hi-res as they are, still cannot convey the awesome size and scale of the LHC. It’s been a year and a half since I stood there, 100 meters below of the surface of the Earth, gawking slack-jawed at ATLAS, CMS, and the other magnificent machinery, and it almost seems like a dream to me. But then I shake out of it and remember: this is what we do, and it’s real.
Secrets of the Universe? We humans figure that stuff out over coffee. What’s next?