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 October 15
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Aurora's Ring
Credit & Copyright: Trygve Lindersen

Explanation: Gusting solar winds and blasts of charged particles from the Sun made the early days of October rewarding ones for those anticipating auroras. While out enjoying the stormy space weather from Toemmeraas, Norway, Trygve Lindersen recorded this picturesque apparition of the northern lights with a digital camera on October 6. From this perspective, the curtains of green light formed a ring which seemed to hover, wraithlike, just above the foreground trees. But the ring of light was actually 100 kilometers or more above the trees and the greenish glow produced by oxygen molecules interacting with energetic electrons and fluorescing near the edge of space. After days of enchanting auroral displays on planet Earth, the solar activity which triggered October's geomagnetic storms seems to have subsided ... for now.

Tomorrow's picture: Ancient African Nuclear Reactors

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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.