The Orion Nebula is pretty magnificent (and other stuff you missed)

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NASA/ESA via Wikimedia Commons
The professionals took this photo, but beautiful space photos aren't the exclusive provenance of major space agencies.

Typically when I think of March, I think of sunny weather and blooming flowers. Unfortunately, since it has been freezing for a majority of the month, I haven’t had the opportunity to enjoy typical spring weather, so here are a few stories about space and bees. Also unfortunate: They are completely unrelated.

Beautiful new shots of the Orion Nebula [Universe Today]

Ever since we started our regular This Week in Space feature, there has been no lack of space imagery to fill our monitors, but we ran across this amazing photo from Gary Gonnella, and had to share it. Paul Hutchinson edited the images and combined the exposures later to create the final product. [via Geekosystem]

Electrifying conversations between bees [Wired]

Although I’m still not convinced that a bee could have a heart attack (see: Karl Pilkington), scientists have recently become aware of a possible form of communication between the buzzing bugs. According to the story on Wired, “[t]he electric fields that build up on honey bees as they fly, flutter their wings, or rub body parts together may allow the insects to talk to each other.” So it turns out bees might just be conversing, rather than plotting heinous schemes, when they rub their feelers together. Consider me disappointed.

Unbreakable space tethers thinner than human hair [ESA]

The last thing I want to have to deal with as I’m sailing through space on my electric solar sail (or E-sail) is a tether snapping, sending me careening into the sun...or something less dramatic but just as fatal. Thankfully, the ESA has been making progress on this problematic issue, and a newly designed tether that “measures just 50 micrometres across–across half the diameter of the average human hair” is said to be completely snap-proof. The tether will be tested on an Estonian spacecraft next month. Here’s hoping that is doesn’t snap.

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