Join us on a romp through the universe as we look at wondrous images from space, including a fish-shaped rock on Mars, a face on Jupiter and moons that look like you could eat them.
Saturn has dozens of moons, so it's no wonder at least a few of them remind us of more Earthly objects. The moon Mimas is a sci-fi favorite thanks to its resemblance to Darth Vader's destructive spacecraft, the Death Star from Star Wars.
Mimas is 246 miles (396 kilometers) in diameter, which is much larger than the Death Star is supposed to be. The large round crater seen on the side here is a dead ringer for the big dish on the Death Star.
What do you see when you stare at this processed image from the Hubble Space Telescope? If you look closely, you might see a witch's head, with a pointy chin and nose facing to the right, along with the ghost of a hat on top. NASA shared this image of the eerie Witch Head Nebula in mid-2015.
Alien and UFO fans enjoy looking for unusual shapes seen in the rocks of Mars. NASA's Mars Curiosity rover sent back this image in 2016. It doesn't take much imagination to see a fish shape in the circled rock formation. It isn't a fish, but it is a fun coincidence.
NASA released this uncanny image of the sun as seen by the Solar Dynamics Observatory during the lead-up to Halloween in 2014. The active regions around the sun showed in just the right pattern to make our closest star look like a carved pumpkin jack-o'-lantern.
Citizen scientist Jason Major processed an image taken by NASA's Juno spacecraft in 2017. The rotated image shows two storms that look like eyes and a wide mouth etched into the planet's swirling storm systems. Major gave the image a playful title: "Jovey McJupiterface."
The space agency outlined the two most famous versions of the franchise's Enterprise starship, with the original series ship on the right and "The Next Generation" ship on the left. It's a fun resemblance.
The Twin Jet Nebula spreads its space wings in this 2015 image from the Hubble Space Telescope. The nebula has two lobes reaching out from a central star system, which makes it look like a winged butterfly suspended out in the cosmos.
NASA released this Hubble image of Jupiter in 2014 and highlighted its spooky nature just before Halloween. The oval Great Red Spot storm sports a shadow thrown by the moon Ganymede. It makes it look like Jupiter has a cyclopian eye staring out into space.
Published:Caption:Amanda KooserPhoto:NASA/ESA/A. Simon (Goddard Space Flight Center)
Spoon on Mars
Somebody must be hungry on Mars. UFO fans spotted this unusual formation that looks like a spoon on the surface of the Red Planet. It comes from a photo snapped by NASA's Curiosity rover in 2016. The play of shadows makes the utensil shape really stand out.
This spectacular composite image of the Crab Nebula from 2017 includes contributions from five different observatories, including the Hubble and Spitzer space telescopes. The leg-like formations seen in the nebula help to give it its evocative nickname.
Published:Caption:Amanda KooserPhoto:G. Dubner (IAFE, CONICET-University of Buenos Aires) et al.; NRAO/AUI/NSF; A. Loll et al.; T. Temim et al.; F. Seward et al.; Chandra/CXC; Spitzer/JPL-Caltech; XMM-Newton/ESA; and Hubble/STScIRead the article
E.T.'s finger seen from space
NASA astronaut Jack Fischer took his first trip to the International Space Station in 2017. He snapped this photo of an island from his vantage place in orbit and shared it on social media, noting how it looks like the bulbous tip of the friendly alien's finger from the 1982 Steven Spielberg blockbuster "E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial."
Saturn moon Prometheus has a heavily cratered surface and an unusual oblong shape that make it look a lot like a russet potato. This view of Prometheus comes from NASA's Cassini spacecraft in 2015. Saturn's F ring is visible as a faint line up at the top of the image.
The Hubble Space Telescope got a good look at the Horsehead Nebula in 2013. The nebula gets its nickname because it resembles a horse's head and neck, with the nose facing to the left in this image. The scenic formation is located about 1,500 light-years away in the Orion constellation.
Asteroid 2017 BQ6 passed by in early 2017 at a safe distance from our planet, but it was still close enough to appear in radar images taken from Earth. NASA asteroid researcher Lancer Benner noted how the asteroid resembles a set of tumbling dice like those used for playing Dungeons & Dragons.
"The gravitational field surrounding this massive cluster of galaxies, Abell 68, acts as a natural lens in space to brighten and magnify the light coming from very distant background galaxies," the Space Telescope Science Institute says. "Like a funhouse mirror, lensing creates a fantasy landscape of arc-like images and mirror images of background galaxies."
A pulsar lies at the heart of this nebula image captured by the Chandra X-ray Observatory. NASA released the image, which shows the nebula looking like a reaching hand, in 2009.
"The pulsar is a rapidly spinning neutron star which is spewing energy out into the space around it to create complex and intriguing structures, including one that resembles a large cosmic hand," the observatory noted.
Published:Caption:Amanda KooserPhoto:NASA/CXC/SAO/P.Slane, et al.
Tethys, the eyeball moon
Saturn's moon Tethys has a classic spherical look, but it also sports a large crater that makes it resemble a giant eyeball out in space. A set of peaks in the center form an "iris." The crater is named Odysseus.
NASA highlighted this Cassini spacecraft view of Tethys in early 2017.
Dwarf planet Pluto displays an interesting surface in this 2016 image from NASA's New Horizons spacecraft. It shows an icy-plains region with a strange black formation near the center. That formation may look a lot like an Earth slug, but NASA notes it's "likely a dirty block of water ice 'floating' in denser solid nitrogen."