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 July 11
See Explanation.  Clicking on the picture will download
 the highest resolution version available.

Warped Sky: Star Trails Panorama
Credit & Copyright: Peter Ward

Explanation: What's happened to the sky? A time warp, of sorts, and a digital space warp too. The time warp occurs because this image captured in a single frame a four hour exposure of the night sky. As a result, prominent star trails are visible. The space warp occurs because the picture is actually a full 360 degree panorama, horizontally compressed to fit your browser. As the Earth rotated, stars appeared to circle both the South Celestial Pole, on the left, and the North Celestial Pole, just below the horizon on the right. The image captured the sky over Mudgee, New South Wales, Australia, including the domes of two large telescopes illuminated by red lighting. A horizontally unwarped image is visible by clicking on the image.

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Tomorrow's picture: moons beyond rings

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