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 March 1
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Mauna Kea Shadow Play
Credit & Copyright: Alex Mukensnable

Explanation: Just opposite the setting Sun, the already-eclipsed Moon rose over the Hawaiian Islands on February 20. A view near the 14,000 foot peak of volcanic Mauna Kea on the Big Island, a popular spot for astronomers, offered this remarkable play of shadows and sunlight. With snowy cinder cones in the foreground, the Moon lies within the shadow cast by the mountain -- a shadow extending across a lower cloud deck and on through Earth's dense atmosphere. As the lunar eclipse is drawing to a close, the curved shadow of the limb of planet Earth itself can also be traced across the Moon's surface, some 400,000 kilometers away.

Tomorrow's picture: comet mountain

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