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.

2015 July 4
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Aurora Australis
Image Credit & Copyright: Robert Schwarz (South Pole Station)

Explanation: Not fireworks, these intense shimmering lights still danced across Earth's night skies late last month, seen here above the planet's geographic south pole. The stunning auroral displays were triggered as a coronal mass ejection blasted from the Sun days earlier impacted the magnetosphere, beginning a widespread geomagnetic storm. The six fisheye panels were recorded with digital camera and battery in a heated box to guard against -90 degree F ambient temperatures of the long winter night. Around the horizon are south pole astronomical observatories, while beyond the Aurora Australis stretch the stars of the southern Milky Way.

Tomorrow's picture: runaway star

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Authors & editors: Robert Nemiroff (MTU) & Jerry Bonnell (UMCP)
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