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.

2012 February 11
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A February Moon's Halo
Image Credit & Copyright: Rafael Schmall

Explanation: Lighting the night last Tuesday, February's Full Moon is sometimes called the Snow Moon. But the Moon was not quite full in this mosaicked skyscape recorded on February 2 south of Budapest, Hungary, and there was no snow either. Still, thin clouds of ice crystals hung in the cold, wintry sky creating this gorgeous lunar halo. Refraction of moonlight by the six-sided crystals produce the slightly colored halo with its characteristic radius of 22 degrees. Just below the Moon is bright star Aldebaran. Also well within the halo at the right is the Pleiades star cluster. At the lower left, near the halo's edge lie the stars of Orion with bright Capella, alpha star of the constellation Auriga, just beyond the halo near the top of the frame.

Tomorrow's picture: dusty skies

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