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The Galactic Center Across the Infrared Credit: 2MASS Project, Umass, IPAC/Caltech, NSF, NASA Explanation: The center of our Galaxy is obscured in visible light by dark dust that rotates with the stars in the Galactic Plane. In this century, however, sensors have been developed that can detect light more red that humans can see - light called infrared.  The above picture shows what the Galactic Center looks like in three increasingly red bands of near-infrared light.  The picture results from a digital combination of data recently taken by the 2MASS and MSX Galactic surveys.  In near-infrared light (shown in blue) the dust is less opaque and many previously shrouded red giant stars become visible.  In the mid-infrared (shown in red) the dust itself glows brightly, but allows us a view very close to our tumultuous and mysterious Galactic Center. Authors & editors: Robert Nemiroff (MTU) & Jerry Bonnell (USRA) NASA Technical Rep.: Jay Norris.  Specific rights apply. A service of: LHEA at NASA/GSFC & Michigan Tech. U.
Pelican Nebula Ionization Front Credit: John Bally (U. Colorado), KPNO 0.9-m Telescope, NOAO, AURA, NSF - Explanation: The Pelican Nebula is slowly being transformed. IC 5070, the official designation, is divided from the larger North America Nebula by a molecular cloud filled with dark dust. The Pelican, however, receives much study because it is a particularly active mix of star formation and evolving gas clouds. The above picture was produced in two specific colors to better understand these interactions. Here, hot hydrogen gas glows in red, while cooler Sulfur glows blue-green. The light from young energetic stars is slowly transforming the cold gas to hot gas, with the advancing boundary between the two known as an ionization front. Particularly dense filaments of cold gas are seen to still remain. Millions of years from now this nebula might no longer be known as the Pelican, as the balance and placement of stars and gas will leave something that appears completely different. Authors & editors: Robert Nemiroff (MTU) & Jerry Bonnell (USRA) NASA Technical Rep.: Jay Norris. Specific rights apply. A service of: LHEA at NASA/GSFC & Michigan Tech. U.Desert Paintbrush & Lupine - Arrowleaf Balsamroot, Indian Paintbrush and other wildflowers grace a ridge above Blair Lake in the Centennial Mountains, on the approach to Taylor Mountain. The Continental Divide Trail - Leland Howard, PhotoTripUSA.
Little Lake - At Little Lake in the Beaverhead Mountains, the first week of August is springtime and Lewis' Monkeyflowers line the stream banks. The leaves of this plant are edible as salad greens and hummingbirds sip nectar from the deep blossoms. In late afternoon light, Homer Youngs Peak reflects in the lake. The Continental Divide Trail - Leland Howard, PhotoTripUSA.Bitterfoot Range - On the windswept ridge of the Continental Divide, south of Morrison Lake in the Beaverhead Mountains, an afternoon storm clears in late August. The mountain range in the background is Idaho's Lemhis. The Continental Divide Trail - Leland Howard , PhotoTripUSA.
Dead Limber Pine - A lone tree stands sentinel over Meyers Hill near Dana Spring. This photo was taken in the evening light, looking eastward toward Marysville, Montana in the Helena National Forest. The Continental Divide Trail - Leland Howard , PhotoTripUSA.
Bear Hat Mountain Reflection - Bearhat Mountain, near Logan Pass in Glacier National Park, is reflected in numerous shallow tarns and in Hidden Lake. At this northerly latitude, near the Montana/Canada border, treeline is at about 6,000 feet. Krummholz (stunted and twisted trees) eke out an existence wherever the terrain is less steep and rocky. The Continental Divide Trail - Leland Howard , PhotoTripUSA.
M63: The Sunflower Galaxy Credit & Copyright: Satoshi Miyazaki (NAOJ), Suprime-Cam, Subraru Telescope, NOAJ - Explanation: One of the bright spiral galaxies visible in the north sky is M63, the Sunflower Galaxy. M63, also catalogued as NGC 5055, can be found with a small telescope in the constellation of Canes Venaciti. Visible in the above picture are long winding spiral arms glowing blue from a few bright young stars, emission nebulae glowing red from hot ionized hydrogen gas, and dark dust in numerous filaments. M63 interacts gravitationally with M51 (the Whirlpool Galaxy) and several smaller galaxies. Light takes about 35 million years to reach us from M63, and about 60,000 years to cross the Sb-type spiral galaxy. Stars in the outer regions of the Sunflower Galaxy rotate about the center at a speed so high they should fly off into space, indicating that some sort of invisible, gravitationally-binding, dark matter is present. Authors & editors: Robert Nemiroff (MTU) & Jerry Bonnell (USRA) NASA Technical Rep.: Jay Norris. LHEA at NASA/GSFC & Michigan Tech. U.
Lemhi Pass - Sunset as seen from the Continental Divide just south of Lemhi Pass. This is where Lewis and Clark crossed the Rocky Mountains twice. On their westward trek, they thought this 7373 foot pass would give them direct access to the Columbia River drainage, but were discouraged by the view of Idaho's Lemhi Range, whose snow-covered peaks posed yet another challenge. The Continental Divide Trail - the Photography of Leland Howard - PhotoTrip USA.
Solstice Celebration (Small Version) Credit: SOHO - EIT Consortium, ESA, NASA - Explanation: Season's greetings! At 01:48 Universal Time on June 21 the Sun reaches its northernmost point in planet Earth's sky marking a season change and the first solstice of the year 2000. In celebration, consider this delightfully detailed, brightly colored image of the active Sun. From the EIT instrument onboard the space-based SOHO observatory, the tantalizing picture is a false-color composite of three images all made in extreme ultraviolet light. Each individual image highlights a different temperature regime in the upper solar atmosphere and was assigned a specific color; red at 2 million, green at 1.5 million, and blue at 1 million degrees C. The combined image shows bright active regions strewn across the solar disk, which would otherwise appear as dark groups of sunspots in visible light images, along with some magnificent plasma loops and an immense prominence at the righthand solar limb. Authors & editors: Robert Nemiroff (MTU) & Jerry Bonnell (USRA) NASA Technical Rep.: Jay Norris. Specific rights apply. A service of: LHEA at NASA/GSFC & Michigan Tech. U.
Ganymede: The Largest Moon in the Solar System Credit: Galileo Project, JPL, NASA Explanation: If Ganymede orbited the Sun, it would be considered a planet. The reason is that Jupiter's moon Ganymede is not only the largest moon in the Solar System, it is larger than planets Mercury and Pluto. The robot spacecraft Galileo currently orbiting Jupiter has been able to zoom by Ganymede several times and snap many close-up pictures. Ganymede, shown above in its natural colors, sports a large oval dark region known as Galileo Regio. In general, the dark regions on Ganymede are heavily cratered, implying they are very old, while the light regions are younger and dominated by unusual grooves. The origin of the grooves is still under investigation. Authors & editors: Robert Nemiroff (MTU) & Jerry Bonnell (USRA) NASA Technical Rep.: Jay Norris. 
Hope Lake - Hope Lake in the Anaconda-Pintler Wilderness emerges from a blanket of clouds at sunset. The Continental Divide Trail passes within fifty feet of this viewpoint, but trekkers will never know it is there unless they keep track of their position on a topographical map and climb a few feet to the ridgeline. The Continental Divide Trail - the Photography of Leland Howard - PhotoTripUSA.