“Christmas Star” and “Comet of the Century” to Hubble’s new masterpiece

What was your favorite space photography in 2020? There were dozens to choose from, and the short, bright and stunning look of the Comet NEOWISE in the summer was certainly one of the highlights. If it preoccupied amateur astrophotographers, so did several stunning solar eclipses and some close planetary conjunctions.

However, astronomers who have used giant terrestrial and space telescopes and spacecraft – including Chile’s very large telescope (VLT), the Hubble Space Telescope and a brand new solar orbiter – have also helped make 2020 significant for scientific images. There were stunning solar close-ups, the mysterious star Betelgeuse, the birthplaces of stars in space, and even images of distant exoplanets.

Here’s our selection of the best space photos of 2020 in no particular order, starting with that to comet.

1. The current “comet of the century” (July 2020)

A sign of doom or a huge chunk of heavenly happiness? Every year, dozens of comets enter the solar system, but rarely become visible to the naked eye. In July, Comet NEOWISE, or C / 2020 F3, showed its two tails first to the southern hemisphere and then to the northern.

Comet NEOWISE, the closest to about 64 million miles, is about three miles wide and traveled at 144,000 km / h. That should be in about 6,800 years.

2. “Great connection” once in 10 lives at the winter solstice (December 2020)

Few people can ever see that. On Monday, December 21, 2020, Jupiter and Saturn appeared closer to each other than nearly 400 years ago at only 0.1º.

Seen in the night sky after sunset, the planets seemed to be closest to each other since the “great conjunction” of 1623, but this was easiest to see since 1226.

3. The best image of the Sun from the earth (January 2020)

The highest-resolution image ever taken from Earth was published in January 2020 by scientists at the new Daniel K. Inouye Solar Telescope in Hawaii, the world’s most powerful solar telescope.

It shows plasma cells rising from a star with dark boundaries that show where the plasma cools and sinks.

4. Solar Eclipse (December 2020)

On Monday, December 14, 2020, a total solar eclipse occurred for those on the narrow “path of totality” across South America, while decisions were made in North America on a favorable day, the eclipse.

The usual hordes of eclipse hunters dependent on etheric experience were forced to stay away.

5. Venus in the ‘Seven Sisters’ (April 2020)

In second place after the “great conjunction” for image planets in 2020 was the Venus-Pleiades conjunction from April 2020.

During the event, the glittering Pleiades or the open cluster of “Seven Sisters” stars gained an additional “star” that will temporarily become the “Eight Sisters”.

6. ‘Ring of Fire’ at the summer solstice (June 2020)

On June 21, 2020, the Moon covered a maximum of 99.4% of the Sun in less than a minute, as seen from parts of Africa, the Middle East and Asia.

Amateur astronomers were in effect for this rare annular solar eclipse that was visible by a narrow route through the Republic of Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Central African Republic, South Sudan, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Yemen, Oman, Pakistan, India, Tibet, China and Taiwan.

7. The first image of two exoplanets in orbit around a star (July 2020)

Astronomers used a massive telescope in Chile to capture the first images of a young Sun-like star with two giant planets like Jupiter and Saturn in orbit.

A very large telescope of the European Southern Observatory (VLT) has captured two exoplanets of the gas giant orbiting a star called TYC 8998-760-1. It is about 300 light years away.

8. ‘Flaming Star’ on Hubble’s 30th Anniversary (April 2020)

His iconic images have redefined our view of the Universe, and for its 30th anniversary, the Hubble Space Telescope has added to this achievement this stunning image of a photogenic star nursery.

The portrait shows the giant nebula NGC 2014 and its neighbor NGC 2020, which together form part of a vast region that creates stars in the Large Magellanic Cloud, the Milky Way satellite galaxy.

9. Rainbow view of Jupiter (August 2020)

By combining ultraviolet, visible and near-infrared light, scientists using the Hubble Space Telescope have created this unique panchromatic image of Jupiter with multiple wavelengths.

It should help them see where the nebula and particles are deployed on the gas giant.

10. ‘Dusty’ Betelgeuse discovered (February 2020)

Before you knew what happened the scientific world spent the first few months of 2020 wondering if the bright star Betelgeuse would explode like a supernova. Certainly he will one day, for the next 100,000 years, when its core collapses.

However, it eventually became clear that the star’s dimming, which began in October 2019, was probably just streaks of dust blocking its light and causing a change in its apparent shape – as revealed in this image from the European Southern Observatory’s very large telescope. (VLT) in Chile.

11. ‘Camp fires’ discovered in the Sun (July 2020)

Scientists have published the first photos of the Sun from space taken by the new Solar Orbiter spacecraft, which showed completely new solar phenomena called “campfires”. The photos were taken while the spacecraft – a collaboration between ESA and NASA – was 48 million miles / 77 million kilometers from the Sun.

That’s about half the distance between the Sun and Earth, which is closer to our star than any other solar telescope has ever been before.

I wish you clear skies and wide eyes.