Astronomy Picture of the Day

Discover the cosmos! Each day we feature a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer.

December 22, 1995
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Summer at the South Pole
Credit: NASA, Galileo Project

Explanation: December 22 marks the Winter Solstice - the beginning of winter in the Earth's northern hemisphere, and the first day of summer in the south! This view of Earth's southern hemisphere near the beginning of its summer was created using images from the Galileo spacecraft taken during the December 1990 flyby. Dramatically centered on the South Pole, this mosaic was constructed by piecing together images made over a 24 hour period so that the surface appears to be entirely in sunlight. South America (middle left), Africa (upper right), and Australia (lower right), are visible as dark masses while Antarctica gleams brightly in the center. Swirling clouds marking the major weather systems are also prominent.

Tomorrow's picture: Prometheus, Pandora and Saturn's F Ring

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Authors & editors: Robert Nemiroff (GMU) & Jerry Bonnell (USRA).
NASA Technical Rep.: Sherri Calvo. Specific rights apply.
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