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.

2010 March 6
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Pillar at Sunset
Image Credit & Copyright: David Alquist

Explanation: Reddened light from the setting Sun illuminates the cloud banks hugging this snowy, rugged terrain. Inspiring a moment of quiet contemplation, the sunset scene included a remarkable pillar of light that seemed to connect the clouds in the sky with the mountains below. Known as a Sun pillar, the luminous column was produced by sunlight reflecting from flat, six-sided ice crystals formed high in the cold atmosphere and fluttering toward the ground. Last Monday, astronomers watched this Sun pillar slowly fade, as the twilight deepened and clearing, dark skies came to Mt. Jelm and the Wyoming Infrared Observatory.

Tomorrow's picture: art on mars?

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