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 June 21
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Zimbabwe Sunset
Credit & Copyright: Murray Alexander

Explanation: Today's scheduled geocentric astronomical event is the Solstice, with the Sun reaching its northernmost declination at 13 hours 24 minutes Universal Time. For denizens of planet Earth this Solstice marks the beginning of Summer in the northern hemisphere and Winter in the south. Of course, the tilt of the Earth's axis of rotation (and not a change in the Earth-Sun distance) is mainly responsible for the changing seasons and the Sun's yearly north-south motion through the sky. Following the rising and setting points of the Sun along the horizon is one way to track the Sun's progress along its seasonal cycle. Tall grasses and tinted clouds frame this dramatic view of the setting Sun approaching the northern limit of this year's seasonal journey as seen near Raffingora, Zimbabwe.

Tomorrow's picture: Prometheus Plume

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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.