Space has intrigued us since the dawn of time, when the world’s earliest civilizations conjured up myths and fables to explain the sun, moon and stars. While our knowledge of space has grown drastically over the years, there is still much that we will never know. Images from the Astronomy Photography Awards don’t explain wormholes or supernovae, but they do capture some of the most wondrous images of our massive solar system. Keep scrolling to check out this year’s winners, along with our favorite submissions.
Before Galileo turned his telescope to the skies in 1610, all that we knew of the universe we knew because we could see it with our naked eyes. Little did we know…
Even though astronomy is one of our oldest sciences, our understanding of the universe is still in its infancy. There are so many fascinating things in the universe and we don’t even have to travel too far to see them. Many of them are right here in our very own solar system.
For a long time, we considered Olympus Mons, located on Mars, to be the tallest mountain in our solar system. At a height of 14 miles, it is almost three times as tall as Mount Everest, the highest point on our planet.
Now we know that there is actually a slightly taller mountain in our solar system. It is called Rheasilvia and it is located on an asteroid named Vesta. Even so, Olympus Mons remains far more impressive. Although Rheasilvia is a little taller, the mountain on Mars is simply gigantic in scope.
Space exploration is one of our most ambitious yet most expensive endeavors. This should go without saying, but it costs a lot to send something into space. That is why every payload carried aboard shuttles is monitored carefully. However, some of these payloads have contained a lot more than the bare essentials. As you are about to see, we have sent a lot of wacky stuff into space.
Out of all the animals that have been to space, tardigrades are definitely the coolest. These teeny-tiny microscopic critters are the Toyota Hilux of the animal world – they can withstand just about anything. This places them in a category known as extremophiles – organisms that can thrive in harsh environments.
We think of astronauts as leading very dangerous and exciting lives when they are out there in space, pushing the boundaries of human exploration ever forward. And, of course, all of that is true, but life in space (specifically, aboard the International Space Station) also offers a lot of downtime. When they are not working, astronauts still need to live their lives, which are actually a lot closer to ours than you might think. Most of the everyday things you and I do at home, they also do them aboard the ISS. However, the lack of gravity surely adds a layer of difficulty to even the simplest of tasks.
Let’s say you’re an astronaut and you just woke up. You would probably want to go through your morning routine, which might include trivial stuff such as brushing your teeth or washing your hair. Here’s where lack of access to running water makes things a bit tricky. Since you are living in a place with billions of dollars worth of electronics, water floating around is probably not a good idea. Therefore, you don’t get the benefits of a running tap or shower.
Astronaut brushing his teeth