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 August 1
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The Milky Way Over Monument Valley
Image Credit & Copyright: Wally Pacholka (, TWAN)

Explanation: You don't have to be at Monument Valley to see the Milky Way arch across the sky like this -- but it helps. Only at Monument Valley USA would you see a picturesque foreground that includes these iconic rock peaks called buttes. Buttes are composed of hard rock left behind after water has eroded away the surrounding soft rock. In the above image taken about two months ago, the closest butte on the left and the butte to its right are known as the Mittens, while Merrick Butte can be seen just further to the right. High overhead stretches a band of diffuse light that is the central disk of our spiral Milky Way Galaxy. The band of the Milky Way can be spotted by almost anyone on almost any clear night when far enough from a city and surrounding bright lights.

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Authors & editors: Robert Nemiroff (MTU) & Jerry Bonnell (UMCP)
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