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 October 7
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Moon Lightning
Credit & Copyright: Marc-André Besel

Explanation: Moonsets are not often quite as exciting as this one. But amateur astronomer Marc-Andre Besel was impressed by the brilliant lighting displays that joined the first quarter Moon and stars of the constellation Scorpius in western skies. On August 22, 2004, his view looked across the Gulf of Mexico from Anna Maria Island, Florida, USA, a region that would experience even more stormy weather in the coming days. The alluring digital image is a time exposure, by chance capturing the details of a brief flash of lightning along with an overexposed Moon and dramatic cloud formations. In fact, the exposure is long enough to show the background stars as short streaks or trails. The bright yellowish star trail, just above and right of the lightning flash, is red giant star Antares.

Tomorrow's picture: Kepler, Chandra, Hubble, Spitzer

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