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.

2011 October 10
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A Strange Sunrise Over Argentina
Image Credit & Copyright: Luis Argerich

Explanation: Why would a rising Sun look so strange? No one is yet sure. What is clear is that the above unusual sunrise was captured last month from Buenos Aires, Argentina. The body of water in the foreground is Rio de La Plata, considered by many to be the widest river in the world. Although the above image is actually a combination of a normal and a very short exposure needed to avoid oversaturating the bright Sun, the photographer saw this unusual structure with his own eyes, indicating that this effect was caused by neither reflections nor distortions in the camera or lens. What looks like arms on this monster illusion might actually be, for example, low level clouds just thick enough to scatter sunlight without completely blocking the Sun. Additionally, the distortion visible on the lower part of the Sun's image might indicate a Etruscan Vase or Fata Morgana mirage possibly created by a curious refracting layer of air over the water. Unusual atmospheric phenomena are frequently thrilling to see personally, and although most can be traced to well known phenomena, others, for lack of more data, remain mysterious.

Tomorrow's picture: bubble vs. cloud

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