A Touch of Nature with Artist Alfred Basha To see more of…

A Touch of Nature with Artist Alfred Basha

To see more of Alfred’s work, check out @alfredbasha on Instagram.

The man who made this piece of art began drawing five years ago. Even more impressive: he taught himself, without the help of any teacher or tutorial. “At a certain point in my life I was looking for new challenges, and I focused on illustrations,” says 25-year-old Alfred Basha (@alfredbasha), who brings nature and its various inhabitants to life with his realistic sketches. When he dives into a new project, the Italian artist typically opts for pen and paper. Then he gets to work, drawing wolves, bears and everything in between. As Alfred admits, “I prefer wild animals because they are out of human control.”

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On the night of Oct. 8, 2015, a photographer in Harstad, Norway…

On the night of Oct. 8, 2015, a photographer in Harstad, Norway captured this image of the dancing northern lights. Auroras are created when fast-moving, magnetic solar material strikes Earth’s magnetic bubble, the magnetosphere. This collision rattles the magnetosphere in an event called a geomagnetic storm, sending trapped charged particles zooming down magnetic field lines towards the atmosphere, where they collide brilliantly with molecules in the air, creating auroras.

Though many geomagnetic storms are associated with clouds of solar material that explode from the sun in an event called a coronal mass ejection, or CME, this storm was caused by an especially fast stream of solar wind.

‘Geomagnetic storms caused by high-speed solar wind streams aren’t uncommon,’ said Leila Mays, a space physicist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. ‘Near solar minimum’”when solar activity like CMEs are less frequent’”these fast streams are actually the most common cause of geomagnetic storms that create auroras.’

Object Names: Auroras in Norway

Image Credit: Johnny Henriksen/ Spaceweather.com

Text Credit:  Sarah Frazier, NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md.

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A Gorgeous, Desolate Record of Russia’s Past and Present To…

A Gorgeous, Desolate Record of Russia’s Past and Present

To explore more of Nikolai’s photography, follow @n_tolstyh on Instagram.

By day, Nikolai Tolstyh (@n_tolstyh) works as a journalist in Izhevsk, Russia, chronicling the latest developments in his region. In his free time, the 29-year-old captures the countryside’s structures that have survived his nation’s past. “I am drawn to the charm of the old buildings’ desolation,” he says. An amateur photographer since his teens, Nikolai takes pleasure in snapping “simple things,” such as wooden houses, abandoned churches and the life that grows around — and sometimes within — the decrepit architecture. A year ago, he began experimenting with stencils, too, creating animal shapes that he poses against the countryside’s natural beauty. His photos bring together the past, present and future, making a reflective and ultimately hopeful record. “I always like to do something new, to discover new techniques and take pictures today better than I did yesterday,” he says.

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This NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope image shows Messier 96, a…

This NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope image shows Messier 96, a spiral galaxy just over 35 million light-years away in the constellation of Leo (The Lion). It is of about the same mass and size as the Milky Way. It was first discovered by astronomer Pierre Méchain in 1781, and added to Charles Messier’s famous catalogue of astronomical objects just four days later.

The galaxy resembles a giant maelstrom of glowing gas, rippled with dark dust that swirls inwards towards the nucleus. Messier 96 is a very asymmetric galaxy; its dust and gas are unevenly spread throughout its weak spiral arms, and its core is not exactly at the galactic center. Its arms are also asymmetrical, thought to have been influenced by the gravitational pull of other galaxies within the same group as Messier 96.

This group, named the M96 Group, also includes the bright galaxies Messier 105 and Messier 95, as well as a number of smaller and fainter galaxies. It is the nearest group containing both bright spirals and a bright elliptical galaxy (Messier 105).

Object Names: M96

Image Type: Astronomical

Credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA and the LEGUS Team, Acknowledgement: R. Gendler
Text credit: European Space Agency

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Weekend Hashtag Project: #WHPwilderness Weekend Hashtag Project…


instagram.com/p/BEivtdijqF4/#nma.g


instagram.com/p/BJeRE93gdIV/#bylandorbysea


instagram.com/p/BJjsLuvACkJ/#everchanginghorizon


instagram.com/p/BGBsvQSOlWc/#ragab32


instagram.com/p/BHXubqmjOPN/#fadi_acra

Weekend Hashtag Project: #WHPwilderness

Weekend Hashtag Project is a series featuring designated themes and hashtags chosen by Instagram’s Community Team. For a chance to be featured on the Instagram blog, follow @instagram and look for a post every week announcing the latest project.

Get outside! The goal this weekend is to make photos and videos that celebrate our wild world — through landscapes, animal images and surprising moments in nature. Here’s how to get started:

  • Find a perspective that best captures a sense of place — whether the grand view from atop a mountain or looking up at towering trees from deep within a lush forest.
  • Photograph during the golden hour — early in the morning or right before sunset — to add a magiclike quality to your images. You’ll find that a landscape transforms depending on the time of day that you shoot.
  • If you’re making video, record ambient sound. Think lapping ocean waves, the sound of crunching footsteps on a hike or crickets buzzing at night.

PROJECT RULES: Please add the #WHPwilderness hashtag only to photos and videos taken over this weekend and only submit your own visuals to the project. If you include music in your video submissions, please only use music to which you own the rights. Any tagged photo or video taken over the weekend is eligible to be featured next week.

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What’s that green streak in front of the Andromeda galaxy? A…

What’s that green streak in front of the Andromeda galaxy? A meteor. While photographing the Andromeda galaxy last Friday, near the peak of the Perseid Meteor Shower, a sand-sized rock from deep space crossed right in front of our Milky Way Galaxy’s far-distant companion. The small meteor took only a fraction of a second to pass through this 10-degree field. The meteor flared several times while braking violently upon entering Earth’s atmosphere. The green color was created, at least in part, by the meteor’s gas glowing as it vaporized. Although the exposure was timed to catch a Perseids meteor, the orientation of the imaged streak seems a better match to a meteor from the Southern Delta Aquariids, a meteor shower that peaked a few weeks earlier

Object Names: Andromeda Galaxy

Image Type: Astronomical

Credit: Fritz Helmut Hemmerich

Time And Space

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Ecosystem Ambassadors: The Orangutans of Borneo To see more of…

Ecosystem Ambassadors: The Orangutans of Borneo

To see more of Mattias’ incredible wildlife photography from Borneo and beyond, follow @mattiasklumofficial on Instagram.

Perched as high as 210 feet (64 meters) up in the rainforest canopy, photographer and filmmaker Mattias Klum (@mattiasklumofficial) patiently waits to meet “the man of the forest” — the Malay meaning of orangutan. For the last three decades, he has documented one of the world’s oldest rainforests in Borneo. “One of the ambassadors, one of the great storytellers, in their own right, is really the orangutan, because they are so well adapted to these ecosystems,” Mattias says. “But when these emerald realms go up in smoke or they’re changed into huge monocrops, they cannot cope with it very easily, and they lose their abilities to survive.” Along with the fauna and flora he photographs, Mattias honors orangutans as “fascinating, beautiful, engaging reminders of the vulnerability and our interconnectivity with nature. We are in fact very much dependent on these ecosystems and their species to function for our own benefit — I think that’s the most beautiful thing.”

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What forms lurk in the mists of the Carina Nebula? The dark…

What forms lurk in the mists of the Carina Nebula? The dark ominous figures are actually molecular clouds, knots of molecular gas and dust so thick they have become opaque. In comparison, however, these clouds are typically much less dense than Earth’s atmosphere. Featured here is a detailed image of the core of the Carina Nebula, a part where both dark and colorful clouds of gas and dust are particularly prominent. The image was captured last month from Siding Spring Observatory in Australia. Although the nebula is predominantly composed of hydrogen gas – here colored green, the image was assigned colors so that light emitted by trace amounts of sulfur and oxygen appear red and blue, respectively. The entire Carina Nebula, cataloged as NGC 3372, spans over 300 light years and lies about 7,500 light-years away in the constellation of Carina. Eta Carinae, the most energetic star in the nebula, was one of the brightest stars in the sky in the 1830s, but then faded dramatically.

Object Names: Carina Nebula

Image Type: Astronomical

Credit: John Ebersole

Time And Space

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Under dark skies the setting of the Milky Way can be a dramatic…

Under dark skies the setting of the Milky Way can be a dramatic sight. Stretching nearly parallel to the horizon, this rich, edge-on vista of our galaxy above the dusty Namibian desert stretches from bright, southern Centaurus (left) to Cepheus in the north (right). From early August, the digitally stitched, panoramic night skyscape captures the Milky Way’s congeries of stars and rivers of cosmic dust, along with colors of nebulae not readily seen with the eye. Mars, Saturn, and Antares, visible even in more luminous night skies, form the the bright celestial triangle just touching the trees below the galaxy’s central bulge. Of course, our own galaxy is not the only galaxy in the scene. Two other major members of our local group, the Andromeda Galaxy and the Triangulum Galaxy, lie near the right edge of the frame, beyond the arc of the setting Milky Way.

Object Names: Milky Way Galaxy.

Image Type: Astronomical

Credit: Juan Carlos Casado (TWAN, Earth And Stars)

Time And Space

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 Newborn stars are forming in the Eagle Nebula. This image,…


Newborn stars are forming in the Eagle Nebula. This image, taken with the Hubble Space Telescope in 1995, shows evaporating gaseous globules (EGGs) emerging from pillars of molecular hydrogen gas and dust. The giant pillars are light years in length and are so dense that interior gas contracts gravitationally to form stars. At each pillars’ end, the intense radiation of bright young stars causes low density material to boil away, leaving stellar nurseries of dense EGGs exposed. The Eagle Nebula, associated with the open star cluster M16, lies about 7000 light years away. The pillars of creation were imaged again in 2007 by the orbiting Spitzer Space Telescope in infrared light, leading to the conjecture that the pillars may already have been destroyed by a local supernova, but light from that event has yet to reach the Earth.

Object Names: Pillars Of Star Creation

Image Type: Astronomical

Credit: J.Hester, P. Scowen (ASU), HST, NASA

Time And Space

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