From Eclipses And ‘Jewel Bugs’ To A ‘Flapping Space Bat’

Did you look up this month? Need to catch-up with the Universe?

Although it will be remembered for being a month when the world continued to battle a pandemic and its political fallout, there was a lot going on in the Universe in June 2020.

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From a rare solar eclipse to some extraordinary photos from deep space, there’s been plenty to excite space fans over the last few weeks.

Here’s how it all happened:

1 – A ‘Strawberry Moon Eclipse’

June began with a “Strawberry Moon” on June 5 that was, for some parts of the world, also a penumbral lunar eclipse, seen here silhouetted from Malaga, Spain.

Visible to observers in Asia, Africa and Australia, 57% of the full Moon was covered by Earth’s outer penumbral shadow during this event.

There’s a “Buck Moon Eclipse” on July 4, 2020 that’s visible from North America.

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2 – One Galaxy Amongst Millions

Snapped on June 8 by the Hubble Space Telescope, this image shows the arm-like structures that sweep around a barred spiral galaxy NGC 2608 called.

It’s a stretched, but smaller version of our Milky Way. Remarkably, almost every single one of the “stars” you can see around NGC 2608 in this image are, in fact, galaxies.

3 – The Universe in ultra-high definition

Also published on June 8 was the European Southern Observatory’s (ESO) “picture of the week.”

This striking view of the Universe in ultra high definition (UHD) was taken by ESO Photo Ambassador Babak Tafreshi in 2016 at ESO’s Paranal Observatory in Chile.

4 – Juno’s 27th orbit of Jupiter

Marking four years in orbit around gas giant planet Jupiter, humanity’s furthest solar-powered spacecraft—NASA’s Juno—sent back yet another batch of astonishing images, including this one of the “Great Red Spot” expertly processed by citizen scientist Brian Swift.

It follows some unique photos of Jupiter taken in May.

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5 – Chile’s crystal clear skies

Published on June 15, this image taken at ESO’s La Silla Observatory in Chile shows not only some exoplanet-hunting telescope domes, but billions of stars that make up the Milky Way.

The months of July, August and September are regarded as “Milky Way season” by astrophotographers because our galaxy arcs overhead in the night sky.

6 – A new view of the Butterfly Nebula

June 18 saw a new image published of NGC 6302—the Butterfly Nebula—as seen by the Hubble Space Telescope.

It’s between 2,500 and 3,800 light-years away in the constellation Scorpius.

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7 – A ‘jewel bug’ in the night sky

A young, dense planetary nebula that the Hubble Space Telescope has been gazing at since the late 1990s, the jewel bug-like NGC 7027 is around 3,000 light-years from Earth in the constellation Cygnus.

This new image was published on June 18.

8 – A rare ‘solstice ring of fire eclipse’

An annular solar eclipse—where the Moon cover most, but not all, of the Sun, leaving a slim ring of light around it—was seen across central Africa, the Middle East and Asia on June 21.

Many missed the best views because of travel restrictions and/or cloud, but some terrific photos were snapped.

9 – Space station transits the Sun

Some photos need planning. Others requires incredible precision planning, like this one of the International Space Station (ISS) as it transited the Sun at around five miles per second.

It was taken by Joel Kowsky, a photo editor and photographer at NASA Headquarters in Washington, D.C., from Fredericksburg, Virginia on June 24, 2020.

10 – A cosmic flapping ‘bat shadow’ in space

NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope captured this striking image of a fledgling star’s unseen, planet-forming disk casting a huge shadow across a more distant cloud in a star-forming region. It’s in the top-right of the photo.

Published on June 25, scientists likened it to a fly wandering into the beam of a flashlight shining on a wall and nicknamed the young star HBC 672 “bat shadow” because it resembles a pair of wings. The phenomenon may be caused by a planet pulling on the disk and warping it.

11 – Remembering a total solar eclipse

Just short of the one-year anniversary, the ESO published on June 29 this image of last year’s total solar eclipse at its La Silla Observatory.

A rare event that lasted for less than two minutes on July 2, 2019, it will not occur again at La Silla until the year 2231.

North America won’t have to wait that long—there’s a total solar eclipse in Mexico, the US and Canada in less than four years, one of three rare solar eclipses in three years visible from the continent.

Wishing you clear skies and wide eyes.

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