Astronomy Picture of the Day

photo An Airglow Fan from Lake to Sky

An Airglow Fan from Lake to Sky

Why would the sky look like a giant fan? Airglow. The featured intermittent green glow appeared to rise from a lake through the arch of our Milky Way Galaxy, as captured during 2015 next to Bryce Canyon in Utah, USA. The unusual pattern was ...

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photo LDN 1622: Dark Nebula in Orion

LDN 1622: Dark Nebula in Orion

The silhouette of an intriguing dark nebula inhabits this cosmic scene. Lynds' Dark Nebula (LDN) 1622 appears against a faint background of glowing hydrogen gas only easily seen in long telescopic exposures of the region. LDN 1622 lies near the ...

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photo Twin Galaxies in Virgo

Twin Galaxies in Virgo

Spiral galaxy pair NGC 4567 and NGC 4568 share this sharp cosmic vista with lonely elliptical galaxy NGC 4564. All are members of the large Virgo Galaxy Cluster. With their classic spiral arms, dust lanes, and star clusters, the eye-catching ...

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photo Sharpless 308: Star Bubble

Sharpless 308: Star Bubble

Blown by fast winds from a hot, massive star, this cosmic bubble is huge. Cataloged as Sharpless 2-308 it lies some 5,200 light-years away toward the constellation of the Big Dog (Canis Major) and covers slightly more of the sky than a Full Moon. ...

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photo Wide Field View of Great American Eclipse

Wide Field View of Great American Eclipse

Only in the fleeting darkness of a total solar eclipse is the light of the solar corona easily visible. Normally overwhelmed by the bright solar disk, the expansive corona, the sun's outer atmosphere, is an alluring sight. But the subtle details ...

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photo Ultima Thule from New Horizons

Ultima Thule from New Horizons

How do distant asteroids differ from those near the Sun? To help find out, NASA sent the robotic New Horizons spacecraft past the classical Kuiper belt object 2014 MU69, nicknamed Ultima Thule, the farthest asteroid yet visited by a human ...

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photo The Long Gas Tail of Spiral Galaxy D100

The Long Gas Tail of Spiral Galaxy D100

Why is there long red streak attached to this galaxy? The streak is made mostly of glowing hydrogen that has been systematically stripped away as the galaxy moved through the ambient hot gas in a cluster of galaxies. Specifically, the galaxy is ...

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photo From the Northern to the Southern Cross

From the Northern to the Southern Cross

There is a road that connects the Northern to the Southern Cross but you have to be at the right place and time to see it. The road, as pictured here, is actually the central band of our Milky Way Galaxy; the right place, in this case, is dark ...

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photo The Umbra of Earth

The Umbra of Earth

The dark, inner shadow of planet Earth is called the umbra. Shaped like a cone extending into space, it has a circular cross section most easily seen during a lunar eclipse. For example, on January 21 the Full Moon slid across the northern half ...

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photo Moon Struck

Moon Struck

Craters produced by ancient impacts on the airless Moon have long been a familiar sight. But only since the 1990s have observers began to regularly record and study optical flashes on the lunar surface, likely explosions resulting from impacting ...

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