Month in Space: June 2013

Feast your eyes on a beautiful dying star, pictures from China's latest space shot, and other cosmic highlights from June 2013.

NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy uses a 400mm lens on a digital still camera to photograph a target of opportunity on Earth, 250 miles below, on June 3, 2013. The many-windowed Cupola is the best place on the International Space Station for taking pictures. Cassidy has been aboard the orbital outpost since late March and is due to return to Earth in September.


The moon rises over the temple of Poseidon, the ancient Greek god of the seas, as tourists enjoy the sunset at Cape Sounion, 37 miles east of Athens, on June 22. The "supermoon" is so named because it's the biggest, brightest full moon of the year. The supermoon's disk is 14 percent wider and 30 percent brighter than the moon's minimum appearance. This is the result of the moon going full at roughly the same time that it reaches perigee - the point in its elliptical orbit that is closest to Earth.

Yannis Behrakis / X00025

A close-up of the dying star NGC 6302 nebula is seen in this image released by NASA on June 7. The picture was produced from data acquired by the Hubble Space Telescope's Wide Field Camera 3 in 2009. With an estimated surface temperature of about 250,000 degrees C (450,032 degrees F), the dying central star of this particular planetary nebula has become exceptionally hot, shining brightly in ultraviolet light but hidden from direct view by a dense torus of dust.

Nasa / X00653

A long-exposure photo shows star trails whirling around one of the antennas at IRAM's observatory in the French Alps in June. The stars turn around the celestial north pole during the course of the night.

Mike Long

The space shuttle Atlantis is displayed at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex in Cape Canaveral, Fla., on June 20. The last space shuttle to go into orbit is now the centerpiece of the 900,000-square-foot facility.

John Raoux / AP

John Wargo, lead technician at NASA Glenn's Propulsion System Laboratory in Cleveland, Ohio, performs an inspection on the inlet ducting, upstream of the Honeywell ALF 502 engine that was used for the NASA Engine Icing Validation test. This test lets engine manufacturers simulate flying through the upper atmosphere, where large amounts of icing particles can be ingested and cause flameouts or a loss of engine power on aircraft.

Nasa / Bridget R. Caswell / NASA

This infrared image from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope, released June 5, shows a striking example of what is called a hierarchical bubble structure. One giant bubble, carved into the dust of space by massive stars, has triggered the formation of smaller bubbles. The large bubble takes up the central region of the picture, while the two spawned bubbles are located within its rim.

Spitzer Space Telescope

The Long March 2-F rocket carrying the Shenzhou 10 spacecraft lifts off from its launch pad at the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in China's Gansu province on June 11. The Chinese spacecraft carried three astronauts into orbit for a 15-day mission at an experimental space lab.

China Stringer Network / X03234

A policeman stands guard next to a component of the Shenzhou 10 manned spacecraft on June 12. The apparatus was found in Badain Jaran Desert on the day after launch.

Stringer/china / X80006

Astronauts Zhang Xiaoguang, Nie Haisheng and Wang Yaping salute after returning to Earth in the re-entry capsule of China's Shenzhou 10 spacecraft. The astronauts touched down in China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region on June 26, at the end of their successful space mission.


A lone boulder leaves a track in the Martian soil on a slope at Nili Fossae, as seen by the high-resolution camera on NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. The image was released June 7 on

This is how a lone rock rolls on Mars.

The galaxy pair known as MRK 1034 lies in the constellation of Triangulum, as seen in a Hubble Space Telescope image released June 24. The two galaxies, named PGC 9074 and PGC 9071, are close enough to one another to be bound together by gravity, although no gravitational disturbance can yet be seen in the image. These objects are probably only just beginning to interact gravitationally.


Three planets - Jupiter (top), Venus (lower left) and Mercury - are revealed after sunset above the round domes of the telescopes at the European Southern Observatory's La Silla Observatory in northern Chile on May 26.

European Southern Observatory

NASA astronauts Cady Coleman and Ricky Arnold step into the Orion crew module hatch during a series of spacesuit check tests conducted at the Space Vehicle Mockup Facility at the agency's Johnson Space Center in Houston on June 13. The Orion crew module will serve as both transport and a home to astronauts during future long-duration missions to an asteroid, Mars and other destinations in the solar system.

Nasa / X00653

This Hubble Space Telescope image, released June 20, shows what appears to be the profile of a celestial bird contemplating an egg. This interacting galaxy duo is collectively called Arp 142. The pair contains the disturbed, star-forming spiral galaxy NGC 2936, along with its elliptical companion, NGC 2937, at lower left.

Nasa / X00653

A Project Loon high-altitude balloon sails over Tekapo in southern New Zealand after its launch on June 15. The test was part of Google's plan to send balloons to the edge of space, with the lofty aim of bringing Internet to the two-thirds of the global population currently without Web access.

Google / AFP

An Ariane 5 rocket rises into the sky from the European Space Agency's launch complex in Kourou, French Guiana, on June 5. The mission sent Europe's Albert Einstein automated transfer vehicle into orbit for a rendezvous with the International Space Station.

Stephane Corvaja / Esa / Handout / ESA / HO

The European Space Agency's robotic transport ship, ATV Albert Einstein, docks with the International Space Station on June 15, 10 days after its launch from French Guiana. Einstein's solar panels are splayed out in an X pattern. with the blue Earth in the background.


The sun is framed by the skyscrapers on either side of New York's 42nd Street on May 29, in a phenomenon known as "Manhattanhenge." Twice a year, in May and July, the setting sun aligns perfectly with the city's street grid.

John Minchillo / FR170537 AP