astronomers can now predict with certainty the next major cosmic event to affect our galaxy, Sun, and solar system: the titanic collision of our Milky Way galaxy with the neighboring Andromeda galaxy. The Milky Way is destined to get a major makeover during the encounter, which is predicted to happen four billion years from now. It is likely the Sun will be flung into a new region of our galaxy, but our Earth and solar system are in no danger of being destroyed.
This VLT shot of M95 shows the lovely barred spiral galaxy, which coincidentally has a supernova exploding in it even as I write this! Read all about it: http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/badastronomy/2012/03/19/breaking-possible-supernova-in-nearby-spiral-m95/
Gray Whale in Grice Bay ~ Every year, in late fall, gray whales leave their feeding grounds in Alaska to breed in the warm waters off Mexico's west coast. They return north in the summer, a round trip of some miles. Photograph by Flip Nicklin.