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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 October 23
See Explanation.  Clicking on the picture will download
 the highest resolution version available.

A Galilean Night
Credit & Copyright: Jens Hackmann

Explanation: Driving along on a summer evening, near the small town of Weikersheim in southern Germany, photographer Jens Hackmann had to stop. He couldn't resist pointing his camera and telephoto lens at this lovely conjunction of a Full Moon and planet Jupiter looming near the steeple of a local church. Of course, 400 years ago, Galileo couldn't resist pointing his newly constructed telescope at these celestial beacons either. When he did, he found craters and mountains on the not-so-smooth lunar surface and discovered the large moons of Jupiter now known as the Galilean Moons. Jupiter's Galilean moons are just visible in this photo as tiny pinpricks of light very near the bright planet. Want to see the Moon and Jupiter better than Galileo? Look for local 2009 International Year of Astronomy activities and events during these next few Galilean Nights (October 22-24).


Tomorrow's picture: light-weekend


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