From This Small and Drifting Planet

Milky Way over mountains and trees in Namibia
Milky Way over mountains and trees in Namibia
Milky Way over Deadvlei in Namibia. What planet is this? It is the only planet currently known to have trees. The trees in Deadvlei, though, have been dead for over 500 years. Located in Namib-Naukluft Park in Namibia (Earth), saplings grew after rainfall caused a local river to overflow, but died after sand dunes shifted to section off the river. High above and far in the distance, the band of our Milky Way Galaxy forms an arch over a large stalk in this well-timed composite image. Image Credit & Copyright: Stefan Liebermann.

NASA's InSight lander touched down on Mars this Monday. To honor explorers (and robots) going boldly where no one has gone before, we share favorite 2018 Astronomy Picture of the Day images.

The Astronomy Picture of the Day website is viewed by 700,000 people every day and is known for showcasing the latest research and astronomical curiosities. The website content is daily translated into more than 20 languages.

We asked Robert “Bob” Nemiroff, Michigan Technological University professor of astronomy and astrophysics, and co-creator of the Astronomy Picture of the Day (APOD) website to curate his favorite, most impactful photos from 2018.

Together with Jerry Bonnell, APOD co-creator, a fellow astrophysicist and staff scientist at the Compton Gamma Ray Observatory Science Support Center at NASA Goddard working on the Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope team, Nemiroff tracks down and posts images that endeavor to inspire a spirit of curiosity and open the eyes of viewers to the myriad opportunities to take a voyage through space via photography.

APOD's corresponding social media platforms reach more than 1.3 million followers, popularizing science and inspiring a love of astronomy. Enjoy the view from this small and drifting planet. 

All images used with written consent by their copyright holders. Click on the thumbnails to see the full images and learn more about each photo.

Astronomy Picture of the Day

Michigan Technological University is a public research university founded in 1885 in Houghton, Michigan, and is home to more than 7,000 students from 55 countries around the world. Consistently ranked among the best universities in the country for return on investment, Michigan’s flagship technological university offers more than 120 undergraduate and graduate degree programs in science and technology, engineering, computing, forestry, business and economics, health professions, humanities, mathematics, social sciences, and the arts. The rural campus is situated just miles from Lake Superior in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, offering year-round opportunities for outdoor adventure.