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.

2016 January 11
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A Colorful Solar Corona over the Himalayas
Image Credit & Copyright: Jeff Dai

Explanation: What are those colorful rings around the Sun? A corona visible only to Earth observers in the right place at the right time. Rings like this will sometimes appear when the Sun or Moon is seen through thin clouds. The effect is created by the quantum mechanical diffraction of light around individual, similarly-sized water droplets in an intervening but mostly-transparent cloud. Since light of different colors has different wavelengths, each color diffracts differently. Solar Coronae are one of the few quantum color effects that can be easily seen with the unaided eye. This type of solar corona is a visual effect due to water in Earth's atmosphere and is altogether different from the solar corona that exists continually around the Sun -- and stands out during a total solar eclipse. In the foreground is the famous Himalayan mountain peak Ama Dablam (Mother's Necklace),

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