These pics will make you want to explore the stars

We gathered up 10 of our favourite space-themed shots. Click, and a take a trip around the cosmos.
By Marc Schwarz

Whether you dig Star Trek, Star Wars, or Carl Sagan – there's no doubt that space piques the curiosity of any true adventure. While this day and age mean it's only the 'final frontier' for a select few, the rest of wonder in amazement. We've put together a few photos from one of our favourite, rarely-touted corners of the internet: NASA's Astronomy Picture of the Day, which has been published a space-related photo every day for nearly two decades. Look long, and prosper!

From the station

Flyaround view of the ISS taken from a Space Shuttle.
The International Space Station © U.S. Civilian

This is the International Space Station (ISS) taken from STS-123 Space Shuttle Endeavour. A modular, low-orbit habitat, it was launched in 1998, and is the largest artificial construct in space – and is often visible with the naked eye from earth.

Can we make it Mars?

Planet Mars seen through a telescope.
This is the planet Mars. Wanna visit? © U.S. Civilian

The closest planet to earth, and closest in terms of offering hospitable terrain – if we ever get there. And yes, plenty of people are trying.

Good morning, Starshine

Discovery Space Shuttle operating in space.
Space Shuttle Discovery launches a satellite © U.S. Civilian

How's this for an acronym? The STARSHINE (Student-Tracked Atmospheric Research Satellite for Heuristic International Networking Experiment) satellite leaves the cargo bay of the Space Shuttle Discovery near the completion of the almost ten-day STS-96 mission.

The original Spiral Nebula

Spiral Nebula - a large galaxy over 60000 light-years across.
The Spiral Nebula galaxy © NASA, Hubble Heritage Team

Over 60,000 light-years across (and significantly more light-years away – 31 million to be exact) M51's spiral arms and dust lanes clearly sweep in front of its companion galaxy, NGC 5195. Wanna see? Get a (really) big telescope and point it towards the handle of the Big Dipper.

A stellar nursery

A heavy runaway star rushing away from a nearby stellar nursery.
Where stars are made © U.S. Civilian

The 30 Doradus Nebula (also known as the 'Tarantula Nebula') is a 'raucous stellar breeding ground' seen in the center of this image. It sits 170,000 light-years from Earth and produces large, heavy-weight stars – several of which are 100 times larger than our sun.

Space station docking

A space shuttle docking at the International Space Station.
The space shuttle docked at the ISS © ESA/NASA via Getty Images

The International Space Station and the docked space shuttle Endeavour orbit Earth during Endeavour's final trip in 2011.

Starry Sagittarius

Swan Nebula seen through the Spitzer Space Telescope.
The Swan Nebula © UIG via Getty Images

This is a star-making cloud called M17, or the Swan Nebula. Located about 6,000 light-years away, in the constellation Sagittarius.

12 Million light-years away

The galaxy Messier 81, located at a distance of 12 million light-years from Earth.
Just 12 million light-years away © UIG via Getty Images

The spiral arms of the nearby galaxy Messier 81, located at a distance of 12 million light-years from Earth.

America from above

Nighttime photograph of the eastern coast of the United States.
Eastern coast of the U.S. at night © NASA

From high above the planet, we can see the Eastern Seaboard of the United States, including the large metropolitan areas of Washington DC and NYC. Philadelphia and Pittsburgh are right in the center.

Meteoric rain

Meteor shower sky on canary islands over the teide vulcano.
On some nights it rains meteors © Juan Carlos Casado

The annual Geminid meteor shower. Those bright lights? Asteroid dust streaking through the earth's atmosphere.

Seated in space

Bruce McCandless flying through space
Bruce McCandless in space © NASA

Above (literally) Mission Specialist Bruce McCandless II is seen further away from the confines and safety of his ship than any previous astronaut has ever been. How? Using the Manned Maneuvering Unit or MMU, a nitrogen jet propelled backpack. McCandless went "free-flying" to a distance of 320 feet away from the Orbiter.

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