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

Rays from an Unexpected Aurora
Credit & Copyright: Lyndon Anderson (Prairie Journal)

Explanation: This aurora was a bit of a surprise. For starters, last Friday morning, no intense auroral activity was expected at all. Possibly more surprising, however, the aurora appeared to show an usual structure of green rays from some locations. In the above image, captured from North Dakota, USA, a picket fence of green rays stretches toward the horizon. Mirroring the green rays is a red band, somewhat rare in its own right. Lights from the cities of Bismarck and Mandan are visible near the horizon. Large sunspot groups indicate that activity from the currently active Sun is relatively likely, possibly causing other streams of energetic particles to cascade onto the Earth and so causing more auroras.

Tomorrow's picture: Symmetric Universe

< | 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.