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 September 20
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Night at the Drive-in
Image Credit & Copyright: Chris Cook

Explanation: Colorful stars trail through this late summer, night skyscape from Cape Cod, Massachusetts. The picture was composed by stacking 12 consecutive 1 minute long digital camera exposures to follow the trails, a reflection of our fair planet's daily rotation. It also records faint clouds of the Milky Way in the clear sky, stretching above a local drive-in movie theater. In fact, watching movies from cars at the drive-in was once a more common night time activity. But while the stars still shine, drive-in theaters have faded from the American landscape over the decades since the 1950s. Still, this recent scene includes a short exposure made as the projector beamed a space age image to the movie screen, and drive-in skygazers watched a view of the Earth below the International Space Station, under the stars above.

Tomorrow's picture: day for night

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