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.

2014 January 8
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Sunspot at Sunset
Image Credit & Copyright: Jürg Alean

Explanation: Sunsets may be the most watched celestial event, but lately sunsets have even offered something extra. A sunspot so large it was visible to the naked eye is captured in Swiss skies in this sunset scene from January 5, crossing left to right near the center of a solar disk dimmed and distorted by Earth's dense atmosphere. Detailed views reveal a large solar active region composed of sunspots, some larger than planet Earth itself. Cataloged as active region AR 1944, on January 7 it produced a substantial solar flare and a coronal mass ejection (CME) forecast to reach Earth. The CME could trigger geomagnetic storms and aurora on January 9.

Tomorrow's picture: tadpoles in a cosmic pond

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