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 6

Nocturnal: Scenes from the Southern Night
Video Credit: Colin Legg; Music Credit: Nocturnal (Redux) by Unkle

Explanation: Have you ever seen the night sky change? It does -- sometimes in beautiful and unexpected ways. To see it, though, usually requires patience. The above award winning video shows several of the possible changes in dramatic fashion with a time lapse video. Visible are sunset-illuminated clouds moving, stars of vivid colors rising, the long tail of a Comet Lovejoy rising, bright satellites crossing, a meteor exploding, a distant lightning storm approaching, skyscapes including the Magellanic Clouds rotating, and a fisheye sky rotating while the foreground becomes illuminated by moonlight. Frequently featuring an artistic human sculpture in the foreground and the southern sky in the background, the video closes with a time lapse clip of a total lunar eclipse. If you can identify any more of the sky events depicted -- or any of the landscapes shown -- please illuminate them with a comment.

Tomorrow's picture: a wheel on Mars

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