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.

2011 May 17
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A Starry Night of Iceland
Credit: Stephane Vetter (Nuits sacrees)

Explanation: On some nights, the sky is the best show in town. On this night, the sky was not only the best show in town, but a composite image of the sky won an international competition for landscape astrophotography. The above winning image was taken two months ago over Jökulsárlón, the largest glacial lake in Iceland. The photographer combined six exposures to capture not only two green auroral rings, but their reflections off the serene lake. Visible in the distant background sky is the band of our Milky Way Galaxy, the Pleiades open clusters of stars, and the Andromeda galaxy. A powerful coronal mass ejection from the Sun caused auroras to be seen as far south as Wisconsin, USA. As the Sun progresses toward solar maximum in the next few years, many more spectacular images of aurora are expected.

Tomorrow's picture: open space

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