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 June 19
See Explanation.
Moving the cursor over the image will bring up an annotated version.
Clicking on the image will bring up the highest resolution version

Milky Way Over Crater Lake with Airglow
Image Credit & Copyright: John H. Moore; Annotation: Judy Schmidt

Explanation: How many different astronomical phenomena have come together to create the above vista? Several. First, in the foreground, is Crater Lake -- a caldera created by volcanism on planet Earth about 7,700 years ago. Next, inside the lake, is water. Although the origin of the water in the crater is melted snowfall, the origin of water on Earth more generally is unclear, but possibly related to ancient Earthly-impacts of icy bodies. Next, the green glow in the sky is airglow, light emitted by atoms high in the Earth's atmosphere as they recombine at night after being separated during the day by energetic sunlight. The many points of light in the sky are stars, glowing by nuclear fusion. They are far above the atmosphere but nearby to our Sun in the Milky Way Galaxy. Finally, the bright arch across the image is the central band of the Milky Way, much further away, on the average, than the nearby stars, and shaped mostly by gravity. Contrary to appearances, the Milky Way band glows by itself and is not illuminated by the airglow. The above image is a six-frame panorama taken during about two weeks ago in Oregon, USA.

Tomorrow's picture: sideways galaxy

< | Archive | Index | Search | Calendar | RSS | Education | About APOD | Discuss | >

Authors & editors: Robert Nemiroff (MTU) & Jerry Bonnell (UMCP)
NASA Official: Phillip Newman Specific rights apply.
NASA Web Privacy Policy and Important Notices
A service of: ASD at NASA / GSFC
& Michigan Tech. U.