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 16
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Endeavour to Orbit
Credit & Copyright: James N. Brown

Explanation: Birds don't fly as high. Airplanes don't go as fast. The Statue of Liberty weighs less. No species other than human can even comprehend what is going on, nor could any human just a millennium ago. The launch of a rocket bound for space is an event that inspires awe and challenges description. The exhaust column pictured is from the Space Shuttle Endeavour after last week's night launch to visit the International Space Station. Endeavour's rocket engines create the dramatic glow from above the clouds. From a standing start, the two million kilogram rocket ship left to circle the Earth where the outside air is too thin to breathe and where there is little noticeable onboard gravity. Rockets bound for space are now launched from somewhere on Earth about once a week.

Tomorrow's picture: moon swoop

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