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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.

2009 June 11
See Explanation.  Clicking on the picture will download
 the highest resolution version available.

Pyrenees Paraselene
Credit & Copyright: Patrick Lécureuil

Explanation: A sea of clouds laps at rugged mountain peaks of the French Pyrenees in this serene view from Pic du Midi Observatory. The time exposure was recorded on June 4, with the constellations Sagittarius and Scorpius shining in the starry night. At the top right lies a faint, but colorful moondog or paraselene. Analogous to a sundog or parhelion, the paraselene is produced by moonlight shining through thin, hexagonal-shaped ice crystals in high cirrus clouds. As determined by the ice crystal geometry, a bright gibbous Moon illuminates the scene from beyond the picture's right edge, 22 degrees from the lovely paraselene.


Tomorrow's picture: pixels in space


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