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.

2013 February 4

Namibian Nights
Video Credit & Copyright: Marsel van Oosten; Music: Simon Wilkinson

Explanation: Namibia has some of the darkest nights visible from any continent. It is therefore home to some of the more spectacular skyscapes, a few of which have been captured in the above time-lapse video. Visible at the movie start are unusual quiver trees perched before a deep starfield highlighted by the central band of our Milky Way Galaxy. This bright band of stars and gas appears to pivot around the celestial south pole as our Earth rotates. The remains of camel thorn trees are then seen against a sky that includes a fuzzy patch on the far right that is the Large Magellanic Cloud, a small satellite galaxy to the Milky Way. A bright sunlight-reflecting satellite passes quickly overhead. Quiver trees appear again, now showing their unusual trunks, while the Small Magellanic Cloud becomes clearly visible in the background. Artificial lights illuminate a mist that surround camel thorn trees in Deadvlei. In the final sequence, natural Namibian stone arches are captured against the advancing shadows of the setting moon. This video incorporates over 16,000 images shot over two years, and won top honors among the 2012 Travel Photographer of the Year awards.

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