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 December 25
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Orion Rising
Credit & Copyright: Jimmy Westlake (Colorado Mountain College)

Explanation: Orion always comes up sideways ... and was caught in the act earlier this month by astronomer Jimmy Westlake, stargazing eastward over the Rocky Mountains north of Leadville, Colorado, USA. To make this gorgeous image, Westlake placed his camera on a tripod for two exposures. The first lasted for 18 minutes allowing the stars to trail as they rose above the mountain range. After a minute long pause, the second exposure began and lasted only 25 seconds decorating the end of each trail with a celestial point of light. The three bright stars in Orion's belt stand in a nearly vertical line above the mountain peak right of center. Hanging from his belt, the stars and nebulae of the Hunter's sword follow the slope down and to the right. A festive yellow-orange Betelgeuse is the brightest star above the peak just left of center, but brighter still, planet Saturn shines near the upper left corner. In the foreground on planet Earth, a frozen lake and snowy mountains are lit by a four day old crescent Moon. Happy Holidays and Best Wishes from APOD!

Tomorrow's picture: Searching for Meteorites

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