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 October 12
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Stars Over Easter Island
Credit & Copyright: Stéphane Guisard (Los Cielos de Chile), TWAN

Explanation: Why were the statues on Easter Island built? No one is sure. What is sure is that over 800 large stone statues exist there. The Easter Island statues, stand, on the average, over twice as tall as a person and have over 200 times as much mass. Few specifics are known about the history or meaning of the unusual statues, but many believe that they were created about 500 years ago in the images of local leaders of a lost civilization. Pictured above, a large stone statue appears to ponder the distant Large Magellanic Cloud before a cloudy sky that features the bright stars Canopus and Sirius.

Tomorrow's picture: giant ring

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