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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 December 16
See Explanation.  Clicking on the picture will download
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Orion Dawn Over Mount Nemrut
Credit & Copyright: Tunç Tezel (TWAN)

Explanation: What's that in front of Orion? Forty kilometers north of Kahta, Turkey, lies Mount Nemrut, a mountain adorned with the fragments of vast statues built over 2000 years ago. The stone sculptures once stood nearly 10 meters high and depicted lions, eagles, various ancient gods, and King Antiochus I Theos, who ruled Commagene from 86 BC to 38 BC. Ruins of the bodies of several sitting figures are visible on the hill above, illuminated by moonlight. Zeus' head can be found near the above image's center, while the king's head is seen next closest to the horizon. Visible far in the distance in this image, taken three months ago, is the familiar constellation of Orion. The red patch just below Orion's belt is the Orion Nebula, while the bright star to the left of Orion is Sirius. On the far left, a red and brightening horizon announces that the Sun is beginning to rise.

Note : APOD Editor to Speak in New York on Jan. 2

Tomorrow's picture: double trouble


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