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Cats, galaxies and Pompeii — October’s best science images

The month’s sharpest science shots — selected by Nature’s photo team.

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Peter Weiss, director of the Space Department of COMEX, tests a pressurized suit in a lava tunnel

Credit: Richard Bouhet/AFP/Getty

Down-to-Earth space fashion. Peter Weiss, director of the space department at French company COMEX, tests a pressurized space suit. The picture was taken in a decidedly Earth-bound location: a cave on Réunion Island, a French overseas territory east of Madagascar.

Chinese mountain cat with its two kittens

Credit: Xinhua/ZUMA Wire

Elusive cat snapped. A Chinese mountain cat (Felis bieti) is caught on camera with her two kittens near Yushu, in China’s Qinghai province. The feline is notoriously camera-shy, but staff at ShanShui Conservation Center used camera traps to capture hours of footage of the mother and her young.

The Landmark Arkam Babu Rahman Floating Mosque which fallen into the sea after the earthquake and tsunami in Indonesia

Credit: Adam Dean/The New York Times/Redux/eyevine

Indonesian tsunami. A deadly magnitude-7.5 earthquake struck the Indonesian province of Central Sulawesi on 28 September, triggering a tsunami in the provincial capital of Palu. More than 2,000 people were killed. Here, a local landmark known as the Floating Mosque — formally perched above the water — is pictured days later partially submerged.

The Falcon 9 rocket separates from the spacecraft vehind the rocket trail in a dramatic cloudy sky at night

Credit: David NcNew/Getty

Falcon takes flight. The SpaceX Falcon 9’s two stages separate after taking off from the Vandenberg Air Force Base in California on 7 October. The mission launched Argentinian and Brazilian satellites, SAOCOM 1A and and ITASAT 1, respectively, which will be used to image Earth. The Falcon 9 rocket later landed successfully near the launch site.

New excavations in Pompeii

Credit: Patrick Zachmann/Magnum Photos

Pompeii revelations. A large-scale excavation in Pompeii has uncovered the remains of two prestigious houses, revealing mosaics, paintings — such as the pictured portrait — and graffiti. Scrawled on one of the walls is the date “XVI K NOV”, or 17 October, in fragile charcoal. The finding suggests that Mount Vesuvius erupted in October ad 79, and not in August, as is commonly assumed.

Closeup portrait of a Sternochetus mangiferae (mango seed weevil) with the appearance of brown scales

Credit: Pia Scanlon/Nikon Small World 2018

Portrait of a weevil. This creature would be a good fit for the next Alien film. The mango-seed weevil (Sternochetus mangiferae) burrows into mangoes in its larval stage until it reaches the seed, where it develops into an adult before cutting its way out again. This larger-than-life portrait, taken by Pia Scanlon, was placed eighth in Nikon’s 2018 Photomicrography Competition.

The spiral galaxy NGC 3521

Credit: Steven Mohr

Swirling galaxy. Some 8 million parsecs (26 million light years) away, the spiral galaxy NGC 3521 shines blue and red as it swirls around in clouds of stray stars and dust. This image won photographer Steven Mohr first place in the galaxies category of this year’s Insight Investment Astronomy Photographer of the Year competition.

Kuhirwa the gorilla gazes mournfully at the corpse of her baby, after carrying it for weeks after the death.

Credit: Ricardo Núñez-Montero/WPY 2018

Grieving gorilla. Mountain gorilla Kuhirwa holds the corpse of her dead baby. The baby probably died of cold after being born in bad weather, and for some time, the young mother treated it as though it were still alive, giving it piggybacks and cuddles. This moving scene, captured in Uganda’s Bwindi Impenetrable National Park by Ricardo Núñez Montero, won the ‘mammal-behaviours’ category of the London Natural History Museum’s Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition.

Gigantic spider webs covers an area of greenery along the coast of Aitoliko, Greece

Credit: Ayhan Mehmet/Anadolu Agency/Getty

Giant web. Arachnophobes, look away. This massive web was spun by Tetragnatha spiders in the coastal town of Aitoliko in Greece. High temperatures and humidity levels in September provided ideal conditions for the arachnids, whose booming population created a web stretching 300 metres long.

Citric acid in crystal form

Credit: Henri Koskinen/RSB

Colourful crystals. It could easily be mistaken for a peacock’s tail — but this colourful image is actually a close-up of citric acid crystals. The photograph, taken by Henri Koskinen, was shortlisted for the Royal Society of Biology’s Photographer of the Year competition.

Spooky octopus. This Grimpoteuthis octopus would fit right in at a Halloween party. The ghostly cephalopod was observed by a remotely operated vehicle exploring the depths of Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary in California. Its ear-like fins make it look a little too silly to be scary — and give it the affectionate nickname ‘Dumbo’.

doi: 10.1038/d41586-018-07298-w
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