Explanation: Don’t be scared. Stars won’t fall from the sky and ghosts won’t really haunt your neighborhood tonight. But it looks like they might be doing just that in this eerie picture of an eccentric old abandoned house in moonlight. A treat for the eye the image is a trick of stacked multiple exposures, 60 frames exposed for 25 seconds each. While the digital frames were recorded with a camera fixed to a tripod stars traced concentric arcs about the north celestial pole, only a reflection of planet Earth’s rotation on its axis. Conveniently marked by bright star Polaris, the pole could be positioned above the peaks of the deserted dwelling. Wrapped in a blanket to stay warm, the photographer’s own movements during the exposures were blended into the ghostly apparitions. Of course, the grinning Jack-o-Lantern is there to wish you a safe and Happy Halloween!
Explanation: This cosmic close-up looks deep inside the Soul Nebula. The dark and brooding dust clouds outlined by bright ridges of glowing gas are cataloged as IC 1871. About 25 light-years across, the telescopic field of view spans only a small part of the much larger Heart and Soul nebulae. At an estimated distance of 6,500 light-years the star-forming complex lies within the Perseus spiral arm of the Milky Way, seen in planet Earth’s skies toward the constellation Cassiopeia. An example of triggered star formation, the dense star-forming clouds of IC 1871 are themselves sculpted by the intense winds and radiation of the region’s massive young stars. This color image adopts a palette made popular in Hubble images of star-forming regions.