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.

2004 February 23
See Explanation.  Clicking on the picture will download
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Heaven on Earth
Credit & Copyright: Richard Payne (Arizona Astrophotography)

Explanation: If sometimes it appears that the entire Milky Way Galaxy is raining down on your head, do not despair. It happens twice a day. As the Sun rises in the East, wonders of the night sky become less bright than the sunlight scattered by our own Earth's atmosphere, and so fade from view. They will only rotate back into view when the Earth again eclipses our bright Sun at dusk. This battle between heaven and Earth was captured dramatically in a digitally enhanced double-exposure over the Kofa Mountains in Arizona, USA in 2003 May. Dark dust, millions of stars, and bright glowing red gas highlight the plane of our Milky Way Galaxy, which lies on average thousands of light years behind Earth's mountains.

Tomorrow's picture: Black Hole Destroys Star

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