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.

2005 October 30

See Explanation.  Clicking on the picture will download
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A Dark and Stormy Night
Credit : T. Credner & S. Kohle,

Explanation: It was a dark and stormy night. But on 2003 August 29th the red planet Mars, near its closest approach to Earth in almost 60,000 years, shone brightly in the sky against a background of stars in the constellation Aquarius. In the foreground of this scary view, huge thunder clouds are lit by lightning strokes from within. Mars, of course, has nothing to do with storms on Earth, though both have the power to excite the imagination and wonder of Earthdwellers. Tonight, the night before Halloween, Mars will also pass close to the Earth, closer than it will come during the next thirteen years. And once again, the red planet Mars will look particularly bright, although much smaller and dimmer than the Moon and even Venus.

Tomorrow's picture: a martian halloween

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