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 August 18
See Explanation.  Clicking on the picture will download
 the highest resolution version available.

The Milky Way Over the Badlands
Credit & Copyright: Wally Pacholka (, TWAN)

Explanation: Why take a picture of just the Badlands when you can take one that also shows the spectacular sky above it? Just such a picture, actually a digital stitched panorama of four images, was taken in late June near midnight, looking southwest. In the foreground, the unusual buttes of the Badlands Wall, part of the Badlands National Park in South Dakota, USA, were momentarily illuminated by flashlight during a long duration exposure of the background night sky. The mountain-like buttes visible are composed of soft rock that show sharp erosion features from wind and water. The South Dakota Badlands also contain ancient beds rich with easy-to-find fossils. Some fossils are over 25 million years old and hold clues to the evolutionary origins of the horse and the saber-toothed tiger. Bright Jupiter dominates the sky on the left just above the buttes, while the spectacular Milky Way Galaxy runs down the image right.

Tomorrow's picture: elephant's starfield

< | Archive | Index | Search | Calendar | RSS | Education | About APOD | Discuss | >

Authors & editors: Robert Nemiroff (MTU) & Jerry Bonnell (UMCP)
NASA Official: Phillip Newman Specific rights apply.
NASA Web Privacy Policy and Important Notices
A service of: ASD at NASA / GSFC
& Michigan Tech. U.