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Month in Space: October 2013

Happy Halloween from the Wicked Witch of Orion, a three-headed astronaut and more.

 / Updated 15 PHOTOS

Wicked witch of Orion

A witch appears to be screaming out into space (her nose points to the right halfway up the frame) in this image from NASA's Wide-Field Infrared Survey Explorer, or WISE, released Oct. 31. The infrared portrait shows the Witch Head nebula, named after its resemblance to the profile of a wicked witch. Astronomers say the billowy clouds of the nebula, where baby stars are brewing, are being lit up by massive stars. Dust in the cloud is being hit with starlight, causing it to glow with infrared light, which was picked up by WISE's detectors.

Handout / AFP
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Three-headed astronaut

Astronaut Karen Nyberg, center, Expedition 37 flight engineer; Russian cosmonaut Fyodor Yurchikhin, right, commander; and European Space Agency astronaut Luca Parmitano, flight engineer, pose for a photo in the Kibo laboratory of the International Space Station on Oct. 14.

Nasa / Ho / NASA
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Southern lights

The silhouette of Canadarm2, the Canadian robotic arm of the International Space Station, is seen in front of lights from the Aurora Australis before sunrise on Oct. 30 in this image shot by astronaut Karen Nyberg aboard the ISS.

Karen Nyberg
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Eruption on the sun

A solar flare erupts (left) on the sun on Oct. 25 in this NASA photograph from its Solar Dynamics Observatory. The flare, categorized by NASA as an X2.1-class flare, was the second of three on the day.

Nasa / X00653
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New angle on Saturn

This amazing view of Saturn and its rings was assembled by Croation computer programmer and amateur image processor Gordan Ugarkovic, using imagery sent back by NASA's Cassini on Oct. 10. Ugarkovic assembled the incredible image from 36 shots snapped by the Cassini. He combined a dozen each of red, green and blue filter images into the stunning mosaic.

Fantastic full-frontal picture of Saturn created by amateur.

Gordan Ugarkovic / AFP
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A peek into the galaxy

This detailed view of the central parts of the nearby active galaxy NGC 1433 was released by the European Southern Observatory on Oct. 16. The dim blue background image, showing the central dust lanes of this galaxy, comes from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope. The colored structures near the center are from recent ALMA observations that have revealed a spiral shape, as well as an unexpected outflow, for the first time.

- / AFP
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Endeavour anniversary

Lynda Oschin, left, is helped out of the space shuttle Endeavour after a tour with California Science Center President Jeffrey Rudolph during one-year anniversary celebrations of Endeavour's journey through the streets of Los Angeles, Oct 10. Oschin's foundation helped to bring the retired shuttle to Los Angeles.

Pool / X80003
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Vesta vista

The giant asteroid Vesta is seen in this mosaic view released on Sept. 30 and made by NASA's Dawn spacecraft. The towering mountain at the South Pole -- more than twice the height of Mount Everest -- is visible at the bottom of the image. The set of three craters known as the "snowman" can be seen at the top left. Dawn studied Vesta from July 2011 to September 2012. Dawn will continue its cruise to its second destination, Ceres.

Nasa/jpl-caltech/ucal/mps/dlr/id / NASA
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Usually, the European Space Agency sends astronauts to outer space, but these astronauts, in an image released Oct. 4, are in a cave on the island of Sardinia, Italy. Six astronauts from around the world spent six days underground to get a taste of working together in extreme conditions.

Vittorio Crobu
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Green light for comet

Astrophotographer Adam Block captured this view of Comet ISON on the morning of Oct. 8 with the 0.8-meter Schulman Telescope at the University of Arizona SkyCenter atop Mount Lemmon.

Comet blazes in stunning shots.

Adam Block
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Soft-shell galaxy

The beautiful, petal-like shells of galaxy PGC 6240 are captured here in intricate detail by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope, set against a sky full of distant background galaxies, in this image released Oct. 10. PGC 6240 is an elliptical galaxy approximately 350 million light years away in the southern constellation of Hydrus (male water snake). It is orbited by a number of globular clusters that contain both young and old stars — thought to be a result of a galactic merger in the recent past.

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Einstein departs

The European Space Agency's fourth Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV-4), also known as the "Albert Einstein," begins its relative separation from the International Space Station on Oct. 28. The ATV, filled with trash and unneeded items, is scheduled to be sent into Earth's atmosphere for a planned destructive re-entry over an uninhabited area of the south Pacific Ocean on Nov. 2.

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Puddle of gold

The sun plays with the waters of Lake Abaya, Ethiopia, in this view snapped by European Space Agency astronaut Luca Parmitano on Oct. 29.

See more photos from Parmitano's Twitter feed

Luca Parmitano
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Eye-popping moon

This is a 3-D image of the moon released on Oct. 18. You will need 3-D stereo glasses to see it pop off your screen. The two perspectives that make up this anaglyph were generated by draping the same low-Sun WAC mosaic of the lunar nearside over the Global Lunar DTM (Digital Terrain Model) 100 m topographic model (GLD100) with two different sub-Earth points.

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All systems go!

Tourists stand beneath artwork depicting the moon landing in the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum in Washington on Oct. 17, as the museum reopened after a 16-day partial government shutdown.

Brendan Smialowski / AFP
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