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.

2009 February 1
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Auroral Corona Over Norway
Credit & Copyright: Frank Andreassen (

Explanation: Higher than highest communications tower, higher than highest mountain, higher than highest airplane, lies the realm of the aurora. Auroras rarely reach below 60 kilometers, and can range up to 1000 kilometers. Aurora light results from energetic electrons and protons striking molecules in the Earth's atmosphere. Frequently, when viewed from space, a complete aurora will appear as a circle around one of the Earth's magnetic poles. This particularly rare purple auroral corona occurred in 2004 high above Harstad, Norway.

Tomorrow's picture: Comet Lulin

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