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 April 12
See Explanation.  Clicking on the picture will download
 the highest resolution version available.

Apollo 17 Panorama: Astronaut Running
Credit: Apollo 17 Crew, NASA; Mosaic Assembled & Copyright: M. Constantine (

Explanation: What would it be like to explore the surface of another world? In 1972 during the Apollo 17 mission, astronaut Harrison Schmitt found out first hand. In this case, the world was Earth's own Moon. In this recently compiled panorama of lunar photographs originally taken by astronaut Eugene Cernan, the magnificent desolation of the barren Moon is apparent. Visible above and by scrolling right are lunar rocks in the foreground, lunar mountains in the background, some small craters, a lunar rover, and astronaut Schmidt on his way back to the rover. A few days after this image was taken, humanity left the Moon and has yet to return.

Tomorrow's picture: french iridescence

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Authors & editors: Robert Nemiroff (MTU) & Jerry Bonnell (USRA)
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& Michigan Tech. U.