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.

2001 February 17
See Explanation.  Clicking on the picture will download 
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Happy Birthday Jules Verne
Credit: Apollo 9, NASA

Explanation: One hundred seventy-three years ago on February 8th, Jules Verne was born in Nantes, France. Inspired by a lifelong fascination with machines, Verne wrote visionary works about "Extraordinary Voyages" including such terrestrial travels as Around the World in 80 Days, Journey to the Centre of the Earth, and Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea. In 1865 he published the story of three adventurers who undertook a journey From the Earth to the Moon. Verne's characters rode a "projectile-vehicle" fired from a huge cannon constructed in Florida, USA. Does that sound vaguely familiar? A century later, the Saturn V rocket and NASA's Apollo program finally turned this work of fiction into fact, propelling adventuresome trios on what was perhaps Verne's most extraordinary voyage. This stirring floodlit view shows the Apollo 9 space-vehicle atop its Saturn V. Launched from a spaceport in Florida in 1969, the Apollo 9 crew were the first to test all lunar landing hardware in space.

Tomorrow's picture: Lunation

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Authors & editors: Robert Nemiroff (MTU) & Jerry Bonnell (USRA)
NASA Technical Rep.: Jay Norris. Specific rights apply.
A service of: LHEA at NASA/GSFC
& Michigan Tech. U.