2011: In the early 21st century, attempts to visualize such complex ephemeral phenomena as ocean currents, wind direction, and speed grew increasingly sophisticated, as the volume of real-time data increased and supercomputers proved capable of processing it. This ocean surface current visualization was produced by NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center. Greg Shirah, Horace Mitchell, Hong Zhang and Dimitris Menemenlis/Courtesy of NASA Goddard Space Flight Center Scientific Visualization Studio hide caption

itoggle caption Greg Shirah, Horace Mitchell, Hong Zhang and Dimitris Menemenlis/Courtesy of NASA Goddard Space Flight Center Scientific Visualization Studio

Step back in time: This is what 100 million years ago looked like, in a galaxy far, far away. ESO hide caption

itoggle caption ESO

Part of the ALMA array on the Chajnantor plateau of Chile points skyward to the Milky Way, our own galaxy. The center of our galaxy is visible as a yellowish bulge crossed by dark lanes, which are themselves huge clouds of interstellar dust. José Francisco Salgado/ESO hide caption

itoggle caption José Francisco Salgado/ESO

The Milky Way fills the night sky over Chile's Cerro Paranal, home to the European Southern Observatory's Very Large Telescope (VLT). Y.Beletsky/ESO hide caption

itoggle caption Y.Beletsky/ESO