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NASA Astronomy Photo of the Day: Easter Island stone giants illuminated under the Milky Way

Milky Way Above Easter Island

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NASA Astronomy Photo of the Day, June 18, 2012
Why were the statues on Easter Island built? No one is sure. What is sure is that over 800 large stone statues exist there. The Easter Island statues, stand, on the average, over twice as tall as a person and have over 200 times as much mass. Few specifics are known about the history or meaning of the unusual statues, but many believe that they were created about 500 years ago in the images of local leaders of a lost civilization. Pictured above, some of the stone giants were illuminated in 2009 under the central band of our Milky Way Galaxy.

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Image Credit & Copyright: Manel Soria

Hubble celebrates 22nd anniversary in orbit with stunning mosaic space image of several million stars 650 light-years across

an image captured by the Hubble Space Telescope shows young stars in the heart of the Tarantula nebula, named so by early astronomers because its glowing filaments resemble spider legs

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Happy Birthday, Hubble! A Stunning New Picture for a Special Day
Things didn't look too bright for the Hubble Space Telescope when it first went into orbit back in 1989: the $1.5 billion eye on the universe had gone into space with its light-gathering mirror polished to perfection, which was very good, but the mirror was also the wrong shape — which was very bad. It wasn't until 1993 that the shuttle Endeavour went aloft with a set of corrective optics — essentially space telescope glasses — that sharpened Hubble's blurry vision and allowed it to begin conducting the stargazing work it was built to do. Since that exercise in orbital optometry, Hubble has been sending home one astonishing photo after another — and one scientific breakthrough after another too.

This week the telescope celebrates its 22nd birthday in orbit, and the folks at the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) are handing out party favors in the form of a dazzling new space image. Even by Hubble standards, it's pretty extraordinary.  read more »

"Waddle we look like when we grow up, Mum?" Mother hen hatches baby ducklings and adopts them as her own

Hilda the Bantam hen has hatched a clutch of ducklings after accidentally sitting on the wrong nest of eggs

Even when tiny Indian runner ducklings emerged instead of fluffy yellow chicks, Hilda wasn't put off and adopted the babies as her own

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Waddle we look like when we grow up, Mum? Hilda the hen hatches clutch of ducklings after sitting on wrong nest
They may not look like their mum - or sound like her - but that doesn't seem to bother these fluffy little birds. Hilda the hen nested over the five eggs for a month, apparently unaware that they had been laid by a duck. Farm owner Philip Palmer was also none the wiser as Hilda barely left the duck eggs alone until they hatched after 28 days. And even when tiny Indian runner ducklings emerged instead of fluffy yellow chicks, Hilda wasn't put off and adopted the babies as her own.

Phillip, 45, who runs the Farmer Palmer's children's activity farm near Poole, Dorset, said: 'Hilda doesn't seem bothered at all - the ducklings follow her around just as chicks would. 'It was so surprising but lovely and she has proved to be very capable at raising them. The ducklings aren't aware that their mother is a hen and Hilda is totally unaware that she's actually got a bunch of ducks waddling behind her.

'The ducklings don't leave her side and if they get scared they run for cover under their "mum". It is very sweet to see. The only way they will really notice the difference is when the ducks start swimming in the pond.'

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Photos courtesy of BNPS.co.uk / Mail Online

Ruin of Nature. US new law "to slaughter or kill 50,000 native wild horses"; Canada closes slaughterhouse doors to US horses

wild horses in Montana's Pryor Mountains run through a field of wildflowers

a majestic and elegant brown arabian horse galloping freely

magnificent black stallion galloping on grass

white horse trotting on beach

horse trotting on green grass under blue sky

brown horse in gallop on the beach

horse rears on hind legs

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Washington Times - The week before US Thanksgiving 2011, President Obama quietly signed into law a spending bill that restores the American horse-slaughter industry
President Obama last month quietly signed into law a spending bill that restores the American horse-slaughter industry.

The ban on horse slaughtering had been imposed in 2006 when Congress defunded the government’s ability to inspect plants that butchered horses for consumption. Without inspections, the meat couldn’t be sold, and the industry withered.  read more »

Magnificent Planet. 2012 version of Nasa's 'Blue Marble' - Earth space images (composite), taken by new Suomi satellite: Jan 4

2012 version of Nasa's 'Blue Marble' space images: most high-resolution image of Earth ever, composite image taken by the new Suomi satellite on January 4

Nasa's shot shows how the image is assembled from the instruments aboard Suomi NPP

2011's Blue Marble: mesmerizing view of Earth is a montage of images taken by the Terra satellite orbiting 435miles above the planet's surface

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Last week, NASA released its 2012 version of the famous "Blue Marble" image. By using a planet-pointing satellite, Suomi NPP, the space agency created an extremely high-resolution photograph of our watery world.
The photo centered on the western hemisphere, highlighting North and Central America. It went viral and got even more hits on Flickr than the iconic "Situation Room" photo, taken at the time of the assassination of Osama bin Laden.

Now, responding to public demand, the agency has created a companion image: this time focusing its lens toward the East and showing Africa, Saudi Arabia and India.

The Suomi NPP satellite hugs the Earth too closely to get this kind of image in one shot. It’s in a polar orbit with an altitude of 824 kilometers, but the perspective of the Eastern hemisphere Blue Marble is from 12,743 kilometers away.

As such, Nasa Goddard oceanographer Norman Kuring used images from six different orbits of the satellite over an eight-hour time period on Jan. 23, then stitched the photos together to achieve the final composite.  read more »

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