Astronomy Picture of the Day

Discover the cosmos! Each day a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe is featured, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer.

2000 September 5
See Explanation.  Clicking on the picture will download 
 the highest resolution version available.

CFHT Star Trails
Credit: J.-C. Cuillandre (CFHT Staff), CFHT

Explanation: High atop a dormant volcano in Hawaii, an eye 3.6-meters wide stares at a faint light on the night sky. Unlike a human eye, which collects light for only a fraction of a second at a time, a telescope such as the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope (CFHT) can collect light for hours. Faint sources become visible that were previously beyond human imagination. These meticulous observations usually take so long, though, that the Earth's spin causes the telescope to move under the sky. This spin is visible in the above photograph as star trails in the background. The CFHT itself must counter-spin to keep on target. The enormous size of the CFHT dome can be gauged by the car in the foreground. The CFHT is one of the smaller telescopes atop Mauna Kea.

Tomorrow's picture: Victory in Space

< | Archive | Index | Search | Calendar | Glossary | Education | About APOD | >

Authors & editors: Robert Nemiroff (MTU) & Jerry Bonnell (USRA)
NASA Technical Rep.: Jay Norris. Specific rights apply.
A service of: LHEA at NASA/GSFC
& Michigan Tech. U.