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 9
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Discovery's Dawn
Image Credit & Copyright: Craig Crawford

Explanation: On April 5, visitors to Kennedy Space Center saw these colorful clouds, twisting and drifting through dawn skies. Of course, the clouds were rocket engine plumes from the predawn launch of the space shuttle Discovery on the STS-131 mission to the International Space Station. Their layered colors are created as they reflect the reddened light from the still rising Sun. Fittingly, denizens of the space center's rocket garden are lit in the foreground. At the far left is a 1960s vintage multistage Atlas-Agena rocket. Together on the right, are Mercury-Redstone and Mercury-Atlas rockets.

Tomorrow's picture: Spitzer's Orion

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