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 27
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A Dark Sky Over Sequoia National Park
Credit: D. Duriscoe, C. Duriscoe, R. Pilewski, & L. Pilewski, U.S. NPS Night Sky Program

Explanation: Scroll right to take in the view from the highest summit in the contiguous USA. The above 360-degree digitally stitched panorama, taken in mid-July, shows the view from 4,400-meter high Mt. Whitney in Sequoia National Park, California. In the foreground, angular boulders populate Mt. Whitney's summit while in the distance, just below the horizon, peaks from the Sierra Nevada mountain range are visible. Sky sights include light pollution emanating from Los Angeles and Fresno, visible just above the horizon. Dark clouds, particularly evident on the image left well above the horizon, are the remnants of a recent thunderstorm near Death Valley. High above, the band of the Milky Way Galaxy arches across the image left. Bright airglow bands are visible all over the sky but are particularly prominent on the image right. The planet Jupiter appears as the brightest point on the image left. A discerning eye can also find a faint image of the far distant Andromeda galaxy, a satellite trail, and many constellations. Today marks the 100th anniversary of the completion of the historic stone shelter on Mt. Whitney, visible toward the image right.

Tomorrow's picture: colorful sky

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