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.

2008 January 20
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Comet McNaught Over Chile
Credit & Copyright: Stéphane Guisard

Explanation: Comet McNaught was perhaps the most photogenic comet of our time. After making quite a show in the northern hemisphere in early January, the comet moved south and developed a long and unusual dust tail that dazzled southern hemisphere observers. In this image, Comet McNaught was captured one year ago above Chile. The bright comet dominates on the left while part of its magnificent tail spreads across the entire picture. From this vantage point in the Andes Mountains, one looks up toward Comet McNaught and a magnificent sky, across at a crescent moon, and down on clouds, atmospheric haze, and the city lights of Santiago. Comet McNaught has glided into the outer Solar System and is now only visible as a speck in a large telescope. The other spectacular comet of 2007, Comet Holmes, has also faded from easy view.

Tomorrow's picture: mercury's horizon

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