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35 Stunning Hi-Res "Public Domain" Astronomy Images

Back in 2009, in the wake of Shepard Fairey's debacle with the AP over the rights to the image he used as reference/inspiration for his wildly popular Obama poster, it made me want to share a list of Public Domain Licensed images, in this case, astronomy. Fairey's situation should hit home with all pixel junkies out there and remind us that we have to pay close attention to the licenses associated with the images we use in our design work. I've compiled a list of beautiful, inspiring astronomy images that all have a Public Domain License.

Astronomy intrigues me. I'm a regular APOD surfer. I love reading about space, and the images of the universe, I find inspiring. Here's a list of “Public Domain” astronomy images that I put together, all of which I found on Wikimedia. If you aren't familiar with Wikimedia, it doesn't have a stellar (pun intended) selection, but it's a very good source of Public Domain and GNU licensed images. So here we go, let's start off the list with none other than our very own blue marble.

Earth

Full resolution: 3,000 × 3,075 pixels

This image is surreal to me. Since I've obviously not been to space, it's hard to imagine that this is really what our planet looks like! I love how clear and pristine the visible continents are.

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Full resolution: 2,048 × 2,048 pixels

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Full resolution: 2,048 × 2,048 pixels

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Full resolution: 3,000 × 3,002 pixels

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Full resolution: 1,696 × 2,074 pixels

You never realize how big (or small) something is until you see it compared to another thing. In this high-res picture of Earth and the moon, it's clear that Earth is huge in comparison. (Earth weighs 81 times more than the moon , to be exact.)

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Full resolution: 2,458 × 2,458 pixels

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Full resolution: 2,400 × 2,400 pixels

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The Moon

Full resolution: 1,280 × 978 pixels

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Full resolution: 2,560 × 1,920 pixels

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Full resolution: 1,986 × 1,986 pixels

I love how many textures are visible in the picture of the moon. I've always pictured the moon to just be a cratered, white, round thing – but this awesome image shows the many textures, colors, and details of the moon.

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Mars

Full resolution: 2,000 × 2,000 pixels

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Full resolution: 1,552 × 1,552 pixels

Like in the picture above, I've always pictured Mars to have a true red color. In the image below, Mars isn't red! In this picture, there are channels on Mars that run up to 3000km long and 8km deep.

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Mars' moon Phobos

Full resolution: 3,374 × 3,300 pixels

I love this distinct shape of Phobos. It's large craters and not-so-round overall shape makes it really stand out. This is a really awesome picture.

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Saturn

With all three of these images of Saturn, I have to say, don't even look real to me. That's what is so mesmerizing about these gorgeous pictures of Saturn.

Full resolution: 2,766 × 1,364 pixels

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Full resolution: 4,000 × 2,527 pixels

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Full resolution: 8,888 × 4,544 pixels

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Saturn's moon Rhea

Full resolution: 4,920 × 4,820 pixels

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Venus

Full resolution: 4,096 × 4,096 pixels

I absolutely love  the coloring of Venus. The dark amber spots and different textures really stand out in this high-res photo.

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Jupiter

Full resolution: 2,260 × 3,207 pixels

I think this may be one of my favorite pictures in this post. The many colors of Jupiter in this picture almost look they have a watercolor-like feel to them.

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Galaxies

Similar to what I said about the images in this post about Saturn, these pictures of galaxies are so gorgeous, they hardly seem real. I love looking through each one of these high-resolution galaxy images.

Full resolution: 6,200 × 6,200 pixels

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Full resolution: 1,730 × 1,428 pixels

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Full resolution: 5,302 × 3,805 pixels

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Full resolution: 4,014 × 3,865 pixels

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Full resolution: 3,000 × 2,016 pixels

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Full resolution: 6,637 × 3,787 pixels

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Full resolution: 6,000 × 4,690 pixels

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Full resolution: 3,915 × 3,885 pixels

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Full resolution: 11,472 × 6,429 pixels

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Full resolution: 8,952 × 6,213 pixels

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Nebulae

Full resolution: 3,601 × 4,004 pixels

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Full resolution: 4,806 × 3,364 pixels

All of the colors in this picture of the Orion Nebula are breathtaking. This photo was taken in 1976 by the Hubble Space Telescope – how cool is that?!

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Full resolution: 3,182 × 1,282 pixels

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Full resolution: 18,000 × 18,000 pixels

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I hope you've enjoyed browsing through each one of these out-of-this-world public domain astronomy images. This is a post I could scroll through every day – feel free to do the same!

I'm the editor-in-chief of Bittbox.com. I'm a designer and developer by day, and a writer and musician when the feeling strikes. I enjoy vintage advertisements and puzzles with an absurd amount of pieces. Follow me on Twitter.

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