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.

2007 May 26
See Explanation.  Clicking on the picture will download
 the highest resolution version available.

The Moon's Saturn
Credit & Copyright: Jens Hackmann

Explanation: On May 22nd, just days after sharing the western evening sky with Venus, the Moon moved on to Saturn - actually passing in front of the ringed planet when viewed in skies over Europe, northern Africa, and western Asia. Because the Moon and bright planets wander through the sky near the ecliptic plane, such occultation events are not uncommon, but they are dramatic, especially in telescopic views. For example, in this sharp image Saturn is captured emerging from behind the Moon, giving the illusion that it lies just beyond the Moon's bright edge. Of course, the Moon is a mere 400 thousand kilometers away, compared to Saturn's distance of 1.4 billion kilometers. Taken with a digital camera and 20 inch diameter telescope at the Weikersheim Observatory in southern Germany, the picture is a single exposure adjusted to reduce the difference in brightness between Saturn and the cratered lunar surface.

Tomorrow's picture: cosmic horse

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