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.

2002 April 27
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Credit STS-26 Crew, NASA

Explanation: Aloha! With the graceful arc of Earth's limb in the background, the Hawaiian Island archipelago is visible in this stunning photo taken by the astronauts onboard the shuttle Discovery in October of 1988. Along with popular beaches and tropical resorts, these volcanic islands offer extreme elevations with dark, dry, cloudless skies. Consequently they have also become popular sites for large and sophisticated ground based telescopes. The peak of Mauna Kea, on the Big Island (upper left), boasts an impressive array of astronomical instruments including twin Kecks, the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope, the NASA IRTF, the JCMT and UKIRT, the Subaru and the Gemini Telescope Project. The dormant volcanic cone of Haleakala on Maui (just below the Big Island) is home to the Air Force Maui Optical Station and the Mees Solar Observatory. Mahalo nui loa!

Tomorrow's picture: Waiting Eta

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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.