Author Michael Benson recently completed a new book titled "Otherworlds: Visions of Our Solar System," which features incredible photos of the sun, asteroids, and neighboring planets. It was produced in conjunction with an exhibit of the same name at London's Natural History Museum. Check out some photos and excerpts directly from the new book.
The solar corona – the outer atmosphere that surrounds the Sun – and magnetic loops during an eclipse of the Sun by Earth. The graduated reduction in our view of the Sun is due to the increased density of Earth’s atmosphere from left to right, which blocks ultraviolet light.
Ultraviolet photograph. Solar Dynamics Observatory, 2 April, 2011
Photography: NASA SDO/NASA GSFC/Michael Benson/Kinetikon Pictures
Saturn’s tiny moon Mimas drifts against the backdrop of the planet’s northern latitudes. The long, dark lines are shadows cast by Saturn’s rings. Just like Earth’s atmosphere, Saturn’s atmosphere – when relatively cloud-free - can scatter blue light, giving the planet a bluish hue.
Mosaic composite photograph. Cassini, 18 January, 2005
Photography: Credit: NASA/JPL/Michael Benson/Kinetikon Pictures
Taken above the Pacific Ocean, this geostationary satellite image captures Earth and the Moon in a single frame. In the mid-Pacific, high clouds near the planet’s day-night terminator line glow red with sunrise.
Composite photograph. GOES West, 25 May, 2015
Photography: NOAA-NASA-GOES/Michael Benson/Kinetikon Pictures
The largest canyon in the Solar System, Valles Marineris on Mars is almost 2,500 miles (4,000 kilometres) long – nearly the width of the United States. A ground fog hugs the canyon floor.
Mosaic composite photograph. Viking Orbiter 1, 16 July, 1978
Photography: NASA/JPL/ Dr Paul Geissler/Michael Benson/Kinetikon Pictures
In this historic image, both the Moon and Earth are seen for the first time as paired crescent worlds, with the western half of the Moon’s far side visible. This photograph was taken 18 months before human beings saw earthrise over the Moon for the first time, during the Apollo-8 mission.
Lunar Orbiter 4, 19 May, 1967
Photography: NASA LOIRP/Austin Epps/Michael Benson/Kinetikon Pictures
In visible light, the dense carbon dioxide atmosphere makes Venus look like a bright, largely featureless ball. But here, in ultraviolet light, details of its swirling atmosphere are revealed.
Ultraviolet photograph. Mariner 10, 5 February, 1974
Photography: NASA/Calvin Hamilton/Michael Benson/Kinetikon Pictures
The innermost planet, Mercury, is the small black dot in the upper left. Because the solar observatory that took this picture was orbiting Earth, the true size of Mercury in relation to the Sun is apparent. The Sun contains 99.86% of the mass of the Solar System, and Mercury is the smallest planet.
Composite ultraviolet photograph. Solar Dynamics Observatory, June 5, 2012
Photography: NASA/SDO, AIA/Michael Benson/Kinetikon Pictures
This crescent view of the outermost planet in the Solar System and its moon, Triton, is one of the last images recorded by Voyager 2 as it sped onward toward interstellar space, having surveyed all the gas giant worlds of the outer Solar System. Launched almost 40 years ago, we continue to receive transmissions from both Voyager spacecraft.
Composite photograph. Voyager 2, August 31, 1989
Photography: NASA/JPL/Michael Benson/Kinetikon Pictures
In this luminous view of southern Europe, the Adriatic Sea with its many islands gleams in reflected moonlight. In the centre, the Italian peninsula extends into the Mediterranean Sea. To the lower right, Milan’s road network blazes. South is up.
Mosaic photograph. ISS 023 crew, 29 April, 2010
Photography: NASA JSC/Michael Benson/Kinetikon Pictures
A vast wall of wind-borne sand sweeps across the western Sahara before extending out across the Atlantic and impacting the Canary Islands. Like most terrestrial deserts, the Sahara is expanding at an alarming rate. The amount of dust in the air has doubled in the last hundred years.
Acqua, 3 March, 2004
Photography: Jeff Schmaltz, Lucian Plesea, MODIS LRRT/NASA GSFC/Michael Benson/Kinetikon Pictures
The western part of the 1,900-mile-wide (3,060 kilometres) Valles Marineris canyon system is seen here covered in morning water-ice and water-vapour ground fog. The canyon is more than four miles (six and a half kilometres) deep in places, over three times deeper than the Grand Canyon in Arizona, the United States.
Mosaic composite photograph. Mars Express, 25 May, 2004.
Photography: ESA/DLR/FU Berlin/Michael Benson/Kinetikon Pictures