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 April 8
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Discovery's Cloud
Image Credit & Copyright: Stefan O'Dougherty and Peter Nguyen
(Acknowledgement: Simone Nageon De Lestang)

Explanation: The space shuttle orbiter Discovery is now docked with the International Space Station, some 350 kilometers above planet Earth. Last Monday, its launch to orbit was a beautiful one as it rose into clear, predawn skies at 6:21am EDT from Kennedy Space Center's pad 39A. Looking east, this time exposure was taken shortly after lift off from a marina about 13 miles west of the launch site in Titusville, Florida. It shows the dawn's emerging colors along the horizon, with wafting rocket contrails at the upper right. The bright streak surrounded by the remarkable, elongated, vapor cloud near the center of the image is the actual track of Discovery, arcing toward the horizon and its orbital rendezvous.

Tomorrow's picture: Discovery's Dawn

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