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 March 26
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Moon and Planets Sky
Credit & Copyright: Wojtek Rychlik

Explanation: Look up into the sky tonight and without a telescope or binoculars you might have a view like this one of Moon, planets and stars. The lovely photo was taken on March 23rd, and captures the crescent Moon on the horizon with Venus above it. Both brilliant celestial bodies are over-exposed. Farther above Venus is the tinted glow of Mars with the Pleiades star cluster just to the red planet's right. The V-shaped arrangement of stars to the left of Mars is the Hydaes star cluster. Bright red giant Aldebaran, not itself a member of the Hyades cluster, marks the top left of the V. During the next week, all five naked-eye planets, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn, along with the Moon will grace the evening sky together - a lunar and planetary spectacle that can be enjoyed by skygazers around the world. But look just after sunset, low on the western horizon, to see Mercury before it sets. The next similar gathering of the planets will be in 2008.

Tomorrow's picture: light-weekend

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