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Stunning Space Photography


Space has many beautiful mysteries hidden inside. Many people have tried and are still trying to uncover those mysteries. In this inspirational post, we present beautiful photographs from space explorations: nebulas, comets, stars, planets, etc. Hopefully, these beauties will inspire you to create beautiful artwork, Web designs, graphics, wallpaper, illustrations, etc. All of the images are linked to their sources. Click on them to get the high-resolution versions.

Please take a look at the following related posts:

Beauties in the Outer Space Link

Messier 1043
Messier 104, known as the Sombrero Galaxy, is one of the most popular sights in the universe. This floating ring is the size of a galaxy. In fact, it is part of the photogenic Sombrero Galaxy, one of the largest galaxies in the nearby Virgo Cluster of Galaxies. The dark band of dust that obscures the mid-section of the Sombrero Galaxy in optical light actually glows brightly in infrared light. The Sombrero Galaxy, also known as M104, spans about 50,000 light years across and lies 28 million light years away.


Hoag’s Object5
Despite the vagueness of its name, “Hoag’s Object” galaxy is known to have some rare and inexplicable traits, not the least of which is the “halo” of stars surrounding its core.


NASA – Bursting with Stars7
The most active star-forming galaxy in the distant universe, nicknamed the “Baby Boom” galaxy, loosely resembles the galaxy shown here, called Zw II 96. While Zw II 96 is located about 500 million light-years away, Baby Boom lies 12.3 billion light-years away and appears in images as only a smudge.

Space Photography - NASA - Bursting with Stars8

Ring Nebula9
The NASA Hubble Space Telescope captured the sharpest view yet of the most famous of all planetary nebulae: the Ring Nebula (M57). This photo reveals elongated dark clumps of material embedded in the gas at the edge of the nebula; the dying central star floating in a blue haze of hot gas. The nebula is about a light-year in diameter and is located some 2,000 light-years from Earth in the direction of the constellation Lyra.


Pillars of Creation11
These eerie, dark pillar-like structures are actually columns of cool interstellar hydrogen gas and dust that are also incubators for new stars. The pillars protrude from the interior wall of a dark molecular cloud like stalagmites from the floor of a cavern. They are part of the “Eagle Nebula” (also called M16 — the 16th object in Charles Messier’s 18th century catalog of “fuzzy” objects that aren’t comets), a nearby star-forming region 6,500 light-years away in the constellation Serpens.


2008 November 1 – A Spectre in the Eastern Veil13
The Veil Nebula is a large supernova remnant, the expanding debris cloud from the death explosion of a massive star. While the Veil is roughly circular in shape covering nearly 3 degrees on the sky in the constellation Cygnus, this portion of the eastern Veil spans only 1/2 degree, about the apparent size of the Moon.

Space Photography - 2008 November 1 - A Spectre in the Eastern Veil14

NGC 281815
It may look like a seahorse, but the dark object is actually a pillar of smoky dust about 20 light-years long. The structure occurs in our neighbouring Large Magellanic Cloud, in a star-forming region near the Tarantula Nebula.

Space Photography - Hubble16

Swan Nebula17
This photo shows a bubbly ocean of glowing hydrogen, oxygen, and sulphur gas in the extremely massive and luminous molecular nebula Messier 17. This Hubble photograph captures a small region within Messier 17 (M17), a hotbed of star formation. M17, also known as the Omega or Swan Nebula, is located about 5500 light-years away in the Sagittarius constellation.


NGC 220719
These glowering eyes are the swirling cores of two merging galaxies called NGC 2207 and IC 2163 in Canis Major. Billions of years from now, only one of these two galaxies will remain. Until then, they will slowly pull each other apart.

Space Photography - Hubble20

Planetary Nebula Mz321
Planetary Nebula Mz3: The Ant Nebula. Expelled gas streaming away at 1,000 kilometres per second create a strange ant shape.

Space Photography - Hubble22

Orion Nebula, M4223
The Orion Nebula, M42, is only 1,500 light-years away. It offers one of the best opportunities to study how stars are born partly because it is the nearest large star-forming region, but also because the nebula’s energetic stars have blown away obscuring dust clouds.

Space Photography - Hubble24

IC 440625
A seemingly square nebula. IC 4406 is probably a hollow cylinder, with its square appearance caused by viewing the cylinder from the side.

Space Photography - Hubble26

M74: The Perfect Spiral. If not perfect, then this spiral galaxy is at least one of the most photogenic. An island universe of about 100 billion stars, 32 million light-years away toward the constellation Pisces, M74 presents a gorgeous face-on view.

Space Photography - Hubble28

NGC 281829
Hubble’s greatest hits: Hubble space telescope images NGC 2818 is a beautiful planetary nebula, the gaseous shroud of a dying sun-like star. It could well offer a glimpse of the future that awaits our own Sun in about five billion years NGC 2818 is a beautiful planetary nebula, the gaseous shroud of a dying sun-like star. It could well offer a glimpse of the future that awaits our own Sun in about five billion years.

Space Photography - Hubble30

IC 139631
IC 1396 is a large nebula in the constellation Cepheus spanning 3 full degrees of winter sky, the same angular distance of six full moons. This image highlights the conspicuous globule IC 1396A – a striking structure sculpted by the radiation of nearby stars.

Space Photography - Telegraph32

NGC 763533
A cosmic bubble of titanic proportions called the Bubble Nebula (NGC 7635), six light years wide, was formed by violent winds blown out by the hot central supergiant star, several hundred thousand times more luminous than our sun The Bubble Nebula A cosmic bubble of titanic proportions called the Bubble Nebula (NGC 7635), six light years wide, was formed by violent winds blown out by the hot central supergiant star, several hundred thousand times more luminous than our sun.

Space Photography - Telegraph34

Comet Hyakutake35
Discovered by amateur astronomer Yuji Hyakutake in January 1996, Comet Hyakutake made a close approach to earth in March 1996. Highly visible even in daylight, the comet put on an amazing visual and photographic spectacle. The comet’s remarkable tail is 360 million miles long, the longest known for any comet.

Space Photography - Telegraph36

2008 February 17 – M1: The Crab Nebula from Hubble37
This is the mess that is left when a star explodes. The Crab Nebula, the result of a supernova seen in 1054 AD, is filled with mysterious filaments. The filaments are not only tremendously complex, but appear to have less mass than expelled in the original supernova and a higher speed than expected from a free explosion.

Space Photography - 2008 February 17 - M1: The Crab Nebula from Hubble38

Stars and stripes in space39
This composite image combines visible-light, radio and X-ray data for the full shell of the supernova remnant from SN 1006. The small green box along the bright filament at the top of the image corresponds to the dimensions of the Hubble release image.

Space Photography - Stars and stripes in space - Cosmic Log - msnbc.com40

2008 October 25 – NGC 602 and Beyond41
Near the outskirts of the Small Magellanic Cloud, a satellite galaxy some 200 thousand light-years distant, lies 5 million year young star cluster NGC 602.

Space Photography - 2008 October 25 - NGC 602 and Beyond42

Andromeda galaxy43
This image is a Galaxy Evolution Explorer observation of the large galaxy in Andromeda, Messier 31. The Andromeda galaxy is the second massive in the local group of galaxies that includes our Milky Way. Andromeda is the nearest large galaxy to our own. The image is a mosaic of 10 separate Galaxy Evolution Explorer images taken in September, 2003.

Space Photography - File:Andromeda galaxy.jpg44

Orion Nebula – Hubble 2006 mosaic 1800045
This file was a candidate in Picture of the Year 2006.

Space Photography - File:Orion Nebula - Hubble 2006 mosaic 18000.jpg46

2008 January 5 – M51: Cosmic Whirlpool47
A stunning pair of interacting galaxies. Perhaps the original spiral nebula, the large galaxy with well defined spiral structure is also cataloged as NGC 5194. Its spiral arms and dust lanes clearly sweep in front of its companion galaxy (right), NGC 5195. The pair are about 31 million light-years distant and officially lie within the boundaries of the small constellation Canes Venatici.

Space Photography - 2008 January 5 - M51: Cosmic Whirlpool48

2008 March 18 – M78 and Reflecting Dust Clouds in Orion49
An eerie blue glow and ominous columns of dark dust highlight M78 and other bright reflection nebula in the constellation of Orion. The dark filamentary dust not only absorbs light, but also reflects the light of several bright blue stars that formed recently in the nebula. Of the two reflection nebulas pictured above, the more famous nebula is M78, on the upper right, while NGC 2071 can be seen to its lower left.

Space Photography - 2008 March 18 - M78 and Reflecting Dust Clouds in Orion50

2008 August 7 – At the Sun51
The picture is a composite of two images taken at special moments in the eclipse sequence, corresponding to the very beginning and the very end of the total eclipse phase. Those times are known to eclipse chasers as 2nd and 3rd contact.

Space Photography - 2008 August 7 - At the Sun52

2008 August 19 – NGC 6960: The Witch53
Pictured above is the west end of the Veil Nebula known technically as NGC 6960 but less formally as the Witch’s Broom Nebula. The expanding debris cloud gains its colors by sweeping up and exciting existing nearby gas. The supernova remnant lies about 1400 light-years away towards the constellation of Cygnus. This Witch’s Broom actually spans over three times the angular size of the full Moon.

Space Photography - 2008 August 19 - NGC 6960: The Witch54

A Supernova Ribbon from Hubble55
A twisting ribbon of glowing gas marks the point where the expanding blast wave from a stellar explosion known as SN 1006 is sweeping through.

Space Photography - 2008 September 15 - SN 1006: A Supernova Ribbon from Hubble56

Horsehead nebula57
The Horsehead nebula, B33 and Orion nebula.


Orion Nebula59
Also known as M42, the nebula’s glowing gas surrounds hot young stars at the edge of an immense interstellar molecular cloud only 1,500 light-years away. The Orion Nebula offers one of the best opportunities to study how stars are born partly because it is the nearest large star-forming region, but also because the nebula’s energetic stars have blown away obscuring gas and dust clouds that would otherwise block our view.

Space Photography - 2009 February 22 - Orion Nebula: The Hubble View60

Helix Nebula HR61
Real, deep space images captured by the Hubble telescope.

Space Photography - Helix Nebula HR62

Triangulum galaxy63
Otherwise known as M33 is one of the nearest galaxies to us and is the smallest member of the local group of galaxies.

Space Photography - Triangulum galaxy64

Andromeda Galaxy65
The Andromeda Galaxy (M31) is one of the nearest galaxies in our local neighbourhood, and is visible to the naked eye from a dark site. Being so near, it also has a very large apparent size: the width of 6 full moons. The bright blue patch near the top left is designated NGC 206, and is a very large open cluster within M31

Space Photography - Andromeda Galaxy66

NGC6888 “Crescent” or “Medusa” nebula. 19.5 hours of exposition67
Supernova explosion remnants, among Milky Way stars in the background.

Space Photography - NGC6888 68

The Cartwheel Galaxy69
The unusual shape of the Cartwheel Galaxy is likely due to a collision with one of the smaller galaxies on the lower left several hundred million years ago.

Space Photography - Astronomers 70

Crab Nebula: A Star71
The neutron star, which has the mass equivalent to the sun crammed into a rapidly spinning ball of neutrons twelve miles across, is the bright white dot in the center of the image.

Space Photography - Crab Nebula: A Star72

A Black Hole Overflows (NASA, Chandra, 2/2/09)73
NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory has helped create a spectacular view of Centaurus A that shows the effects of a supermassive black hole. At the center of this nearby galaxy, a central black hole powers jets and lobes that flare against a background of stars and stardust. In the upper left of the image, an X-ray jet extends about 13,000 light years away from the black hole. The material in that jet is travelling at about half the speed of light.

Space Photography - A Black Hole Overflows (NASA, Chandra, 2/2/09)74

Supernova Explosion 1987A75
February 24, 1987 will be remembered as one of the most spectacular events observed by astronomers in modern times. The destruction of a massive star in the Large Magellanic Cloud, a nearby galaxy, resulted in Supernova 1987A.

Space Photography - Supernova Explosion 1987A (Redux: NASA, Chandra, 2/24/09, Original Release 2/22/07)76

Kepler supernova remnant77


Sagittarius constellation79
Rippling fields of radiation are cast on both sides of Red Spider nebula in the Sagittarius constellation.


Heart Nebula81
Not surprisingly, the broad, nebular shapes within IC1805 led to its nickname the “Heart Nebula.”


Mars’s ”Fear” Moon Unveiled83
The tiny moon’s most prominent feature is Stickney Crater, pictured above in false color. The impact that created Stickney is thought to have almost shattered the roughly 17-mile-wide (27-kilometer-wide) moon.


Faint wisps of gas dance across space, the remnants of a violent supernova that would have been visible to the naked eye on Earth for weeks at the dawn of human civilization some 10,000 years ago.


Spiral galaxy M8387
Spiral galaxy M83 gleams with its high population of young stars and copious debris and dust.


An arm of super-heated gas, approaching nearly 1 million degrees, erupts from the surface of the Sun.


MyCn18, a young planetary nebula located about 8,000 light years away. This photograph was taken with NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope.


Unusual Auroras Over Saturn’s North Pole93
The strange aurora are shown in blue in the above image, while the underlying clouds are shown in red. The previously recorded, also-strange hexagon cloud patterns are visible in red below the aurora. These Saturnian aurora can cover the entire pole, while auroras around Earth and Jupiter are typically confined by magnetic fields to rings surrounding the magnetic poles.


Helix nebula95
Infrared image by NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope shows the Helix nebula.


Spiral galaxy M10697
Beautiful view of spiral galaxy M106.


Main Galaxy String99
A beautiful galaxy string showing thousands of galaxies.

Thousands of galaxies100

M81 galaxy101
M81 is also known as Bode’s Galaxy.


The star Monocerotis is seen here on the fringe of the Milky Way, brightly illuminated by reflected light from a past explosion.


Antennae galaxies105


Beautiful Photographs From Outer Space Link

Sunset over the Pacific107


To Fly Free In Space109



Space Photography - Mars112

The Moon113


Saturn’s Ice Moon115



Space Photography - File:Venus globe.jpg118


Space Photography - File:PIA04866 modest.jpg120

Enceladus up close121
The tortured surface of Saturn’s moon Enceladus and its fascinating ongoing geologic activity tell the story of the ancient and present struggles of one tiny world. The enhanced color view of Enceladus seen here is largely of the southern hemisphere. The south polar terrain is marked by a striking set of “blue” fractures and encircled by a conspicuous and continuous chain of folds and ridges. This mosaic was created from 21 false-color frames taken during the Cassini spacecraft’s close approaches to Enceladus on March 9 and July 14, 2005. Images taken using filters sensitive to ultraviolet, visible and infrared light were combined to create the individual frames. (NASA/JPL-Caltech) #

Space Photography - Enceladus up close122

Earth seen from space123


A Beautiful View of Huge Clouds Over Earth125




The Sunset On Mars129


Space Shuttle Endeavour131
A boom used to inspect the shuttle’s heat shield is seen in this photo taken by a member of the shuttle crew.

Space Photography - Photographs from on board the International Space Station and Space Shuttle Endeavour - Telegraph132

Recent scenes from the ISS133
Closer still to Sarychev Peak Volcano, pyroclastic flows can be seen tumbling down its slope (lighter clouds, bottom). Also visible is a closer view of the condensation cloud or “pileus”, formed by the rapidly rising plume. (NASA/JSC) # [Google map]

Space Photography - Recent scenes from the ISS134

Recent scenes from the ISS135
Circular Contrails are visible, east of Lake Nipigon, Canada. (NASA/JSC) # [Google map]

Space Photography - Recent scenes from the ISS136

A U.S. Air Force B-52 Stratofotress Heavy Bomber Flies Over a Cloud-Covered Ocean, May 31, 1986


Memorable Moments In Human Spaceflight Link

Space walk139
Astronaut Ed White performs a space walk, straightening the floating loops of slack in his tether as he moves away from the space shuttle Discovery.


An astronaut in space141
An astronaut grasps a large power tool during maintenance of the Hubble Space Telescope.


American flag on the Moon143


Footprint on the surface of the Moon145
Buzz Aldrin’s famous footprint on the surface of the moon, taken in July of 1969 during the Apollo 11 mission, has come to be a fitting symbol of humanity’s advance into space.


Shuttle STS-113 looms in the background147


Space shuttle Endeavor149
Leaving fiery plumes in its wake, the space shuttle Endeavor sears a path into the darkness on its way to the International Space Station.


STS-114 Discovery takes off151
Plumes of smoke and dust boil from the perimeter of the launch pad during the take-off of STS-114 Discovery.


More Sources Of Inspiration Link

Please take a look at the following related posts:


Footnotes Link

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Vailancio Rodrigues is a web ninja who bakes semantic muffins. Apart from that he is also interested in Motion Graphics, Visual Effects, Photography and knows little bit of Physics due to his college education . He is from Goa - a beautiful tropical paradise in India.

  1. 1

    Wow these are really awesome. Bookmarked.

  2. 2

    Nah, nothing spectacular – I don’t get how people can find such things beautiful, they are abstract and chaotic.

  3. 3

    Fuckin ace!

  4. 4

    Great Photos!!

    Just a small correction. You put “Astronaut Ed White performs the first space walk” and while he was the first American to perform a space walk in fact Alexey Leonov was who completed the first ever space walk.


  5. 5

    Very beautiful!

  6. 6

    Space; perfect beauty

  7. 7

    Comet Hyakutake

    “Discovered by amateur astronomer Yuji Hyakutake in January 1996, Comet Hyakutake made a close approach to earth in March 1996. Highly visible even in daylight, the comet put on an amazing visual and photographic spectacle. The comet?s remarkable tail is 3 Comet Hyakutake Discovered by amateur astronomer Yuji Hyakutake in January 1996, Comet Hyakutake made a close approach to earth in March 1996. Highly visible even in daylight, the comet put on an amazing visual and photographic spectacle. The comet’s remarkable tail is 360 million miles long, the longest known for any comet Picture: Bill and Sally Fletcher / Capturing the Stars, Astrophotography by the Masters”

    What is this? Please fix.

  8. 8

    boring… very boring……………

  9. 9

    Cool stuff!!

  10. 10

    Amazing, and slightly nauseating.

  11. 11

    GREAT photos.

    @Andy Marrow: You see chaos, but I see a sense of order. The alignment of the planets, the location of the sun, the shapes of mass that distinguish different galaxies from one another and the beautiful colors each of these extraordinary objects omit. Just because one doesn’t understand the objects, why they are there and they way they function, doesn’t mean it is chaotic.

  12. 12

    OK, this was below the normal level of Smashing. The captions are merely copied and pasted from the original pages, without even making them grammatically match the new context. Furthermore, most of us have probably seen a lot of these pictures before, so they’re hardly fresh inspiration. Who hasn’t seen the photo of Aldrin on the moon?

  13. 13

    A little off topic for something to be posted on SM…. Not hardly website inspiration, and kindof a wasted read. Wonder how much someone got paid to copy all of that from other websites. That can also effect SEO for SM. Guess someone was desperate for content. Try harder next time, but thanks for the effort.

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  16. 16

    Good lord, some of you people are hard to please.

    I think the pictures are lovely.

  17. 17

    AMAZING …. !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    MIND BLOWING … !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    GREAT WORK SM & Vailancio Rodrigues…..
    keep it up!!!

  18. 18


  19. 19

    Where are the Pillars of Creation and the Horsehead nebula?

    @Andy Marrow: are you saying that there’s no beauty in chaos?

    • 20

      Great Photos!!

      Just a small correction. You put “Astronaut Ed White performs the first space walk” and while he was the first American to perform a space walk in fact Alexey Leonov was who completed the first ever space walk.


  20. 21

    I read your comments. Thanks for commenting and correcting.
    Well the article which was delivered to Smashing Magazine is different from what has been published. May be because
    • there were not many photos
    • there was not much text
    • SM was not satisfied with my short article.
    SM worked more on the post adding those extra images and the text.
    I will try to contact the chief editor to sort out this matter and assure you that in future you will get highly inspirational articles.

  21. 22

    I think the pictures are great!

  22. 23

    Finally a photography post. Inspiration is everywhere. To the critics above, just like every movie can’t be Citizen Kane not every post can be perfect. I enjoyed it. Not the best not the worst, and it is good to mix it up from time to time.

    Thanks SM, Cheers!

  23. 24

    Awesome photos, for me Space is an ultimate inspiration :)

  24. 25

    “NGC 2207
    These glowering eyes are the swirling cores of two merging galaxies called NGC 2207 and IC 2163 in Canis Major”…. and yet more proof of the creator of the universe, his noodlieness, the flying spaghetti monster.

  25. 26

    These are really awesome… stumbled :)

  26. 27


    I used to read alot on astronomy about a decade back, those were familiar then.. now seeing these I have beautiful memories of my learnings and interest.. thanks SM!

  27. 28

    That was Smashing !!

  28. 29

    I often find the further away from a computer I get, the easier it is to be inspired. There is no html or css in space. These shapes and textures are awesome.

    What’s up with people flaming this post? If you want to be inspired for a new interface, think about being in a space ship, and looking out your window…. when you look back down at your controls, what do they look like? Maybe you are looking at a heads up display, with these images in the background.

    Just because a series of images doesn’t inspire you right now, does not mean they won’t ever inspire you. Nor does it mean that they can’t inspire anyone else.

  29. 30

    amazing!!! no words for this!

  30. 31

    Beyond infinity!

  31. 32

    A short and simple ‘how to’ would’ve been more SM-like. Right now this is more like NASA’s APOD collection.

  32. 33

    All amazing pics, apart from the ones made in a studio in California with the space men in tinfoil suits walking about on the moon in radiation which would have microwaved them in a matter of minutes.

  33. 34

    Really beautiful photos!

    I wonder if I can copy the contents of the Smashing Magazine and put on my site giving the proper credit?

    Sorry my English is not very good.

  34. 35

    i Dont understand some of you who say “boring”, or “off topic” . as a designer and illustrator, and from the intro paragraph alone, these photographs are a form of inspiration. If you consider yourself a strong person amongst your field, you would not look at this as an off the topic post nor boring.

  35. 36

    Gaurav Toshniwal

    July 24, 2009 12:01 pm

    that was SMASHING!!!!

  36. 37

    wow, some really crazy, mind boggling stuff. I especially like “sunset on mars” and “pillars of creation”. Thanks so much for sharing! xxx

  37. 38

    Jennifer @dna11

    July 24, 2009 12:20 pm

    This is awesome!

  38. 39

    God is good.

  39. 40

    As someone studying to become an astronautical engineer, I did find these incredibly inspiring – not so much in the design sense, but in a boost to keep going to reach my ultimate goal. Great work!
    Thanks SM!

  40. 41

    God is great.

    Fantastic imagery. Out of this world. Literally! If you do not see beauty in this, you are not a designer, as far as I am concerned.

  41. 42

    I don’t see any image of “GOD” in here, stop being delusional.
    Hubble telescope is great, not science fiction like talking snake…

    Good Post SM keep it up.

  42. 43

    Judith Patterson / BindingLogic

    July 24, 2009 1:43 pm

    People, these is a beautiful subtext running here!

  43. 44

    Boring? How could anyone think these images are boring?

    To anyone who thinks these images are boring: Go back to watching your reality TV shows and leave the rest of us who have two brain cells to rub together alone.

  44. 45

    Nice! Nice!

  45. 46

    absolutely incredible! I hardly expected to find a newly piqued interest in astronomy just by following Smashing’s RSS feed, but that’s what has happened!!

  46. 47

    I think the pictures were really spectacular. Thanks SM and Vailancio Rodrigues for the effort in putting all the pictures in one single post. I request SM to start numbering the pictures for easy reference in the comment section.

    Btw, in the picture titled “2008 October 25 – NGC 602 and Beyond” can anyone see a baby’s face? Well, I am not being delusional. :)

  47. 48

    Dats really awesome man!!!!

  48. 49

    How can anyone look at these photos and think “God”? I do hope he didn’t put Andromeda on its collision course with the Milky Way. Pretty clumsy creator.

    Anyway, maybe this is not a terribly fitting collection for SM, but I can’t complain. These images do not get stale.

  49. 50

    TImely and thought-provoking. Thanks Smashing.

  50. 51

    God is good.

    God is great.

    All of that are made by god (allah) the only one god. So, it should be beautifull and greate.

    What is all this God and Allah crap? Surely the one thing these pictures should do is give you a clearer perspective of the sheer immense size of the universe and how meagre and inadequate your “god” is. Those tribal superstitions have no place in the real world.

    Fabulous photos, except for the first one of Mars and the one of Venus which are NOT photos but in fact computer generated composites from satellite scans.


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