Astronomy Picture of the Day

111
Each day a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe is featured, along with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer. provided by NASA and Michigan Technological University (MTU).
Open in app
Astronomy Picture of the Day
1
🌌Manicouagan Impact Crater from Space Orbiting 400 kilometers above Quebec, Canada, planet Earth, the International Space Station Expedition 59 crew captured this snapshot of the broad St. Lawrence River and curiously circular Lake Manicouagan on April 11. Right of center, the ring-shaped lake is a modern reservoir within the eroded remnant of an ancient 100 kilometer diameter impact crater. The ...
Astronomy Picture of the Day
3
🌌M78 from the Euclid Space Telescope Star formation can be messy. To help find out just how messy, ESA's new Sun-orbiting Euclid telescope recently captured the most detailed image ever of the bright star forming region M78. Near the image center, M78 lies at a distance of only about 1,300 light-years away and has a main glowing core that spans about 5 light-years. The featured image was taken i ...
Astronomy Picture of the Day
3
© Christophe Vergnes

N3169N3166Final.jpg

jpg
5.53 Mb
Astronomy Picture of the Day
1
🌌Unraveling NGC 3169 Spiral galaxy NGC 3169 looks to be unraveling like a ball of cosmic yarn. It lies some 70 million light-years away, south of bright star Regulus toward the faint constellation Sextans. Wound up spiral arms are pulled out into sweeping tidal tails as NGC 3169 (left) and neighboring NGC 3166 interact gravitationally. Eventually the galaxies will merge into one, a common fate e ...
Astronomy Picture of the Day
1
© Göran Strand

AuroraSweden_Strand_1500.jpg

jpg
562.155 Kb
Astronomy Picture of the Day
1
🌌Green Aurora over Sweden It was bright and green and stretched across the sky. This striking aurora display was captured in 2016 just outside of Östersund, Sweden. Six photographic fields were merged to create the featured panorama spanning almost 180 degrees. Particularly striking aspects of this aurora include its sweeping arc-like shape and its stark definition. Lake Storsjön is seen in the ...
Astronomy Picture of the Day
5

Cg4Galaxy_CtioRector_1476.jpg

jpg
941.368 Kb
Astronomy Picture of the Day
5
🌌CG4: The Globule and the Galaxy Can a gas cloud eat a galaxy? It's not even close. The "claw" of this odd looking "creature" in the featured photo is a gas cloud known as a cometary globule. This globule, however, has ruptured. Cometary globules are typically characterized by dusty heads and elongated tails. These features cause cometary globules to have visual similarities to comets, but in re ...
Astronomy Picture of the Day
4
© Xuecheng Liu & Yuxuan Liu

AuroraWisconsin_Liu_6000.jpg

jpg
3.63 Mb
Astronomy Picture of the Day
4
🌌Aurora Dome Sky It seemed like night, but part of the sky glowed purple. It was the now famous night of May 10, 2024, when people over much of the world reported beautiful aurora-filled skies. The featured image was captured this night during early morning hours from Arlington, Wisconsin, USA. The panorama is a composite of several 6-second exposures covering two thirds of the visible sky, with ...
Astronomy Picture of the Day
6
© Chirag Upreti

AuroraStartrails_chiragupreti.jpg

jpg
1.35 Mb
Astronomy Picture of the Day
4
🌌North Celestial Aurora Graceful star trail arcs reflect planet Earth's daily rotation in this colorful night skyscape. To create the timelapse composite, on May 12 consecutive exposures were recorded with a camera fixed to a tripod on the shores of the Ashokan Reservoir, in the Catskills region of New York, USA. North star Polaris is near the center of the star trail arcs. The broad trail of a ...
Astronomy Picture of the Day
5

DSC_6363Panorama-2.jpg

jpg
1.03 Mb
Astronomy Picture of the Day
6
🌌Aurora Banks Peninsula This well-composed composite panoramic view looks due south from Banks Peninsula near Christchurch on New Zealand's South Island. The base of a tower-like rocky sea stack is awash in the foreground, with stars of the Southern Cross at the top of the frame and planet Earth's south celestial pole near center. Still, captured on May 11, vibrant aurora australis dominate the ...
Astronomy Picture of the Day
8
© Wright Dobbs

WrightDobbs_Georgia_Aurora_2.jpg

jpg
1.52 Mb
Astronomy Picture of the Day
7
🌌Aurora Georgia A familiar sight from Georgia, USA, the Moon sets near the western horizon in this rural night skyscape. Captured on May 10 before local midnight, the image overexposes the Moon's bright waning crescent at left in the frame. A long irrigation rig stretches across farmland about 15 miles north of the city of Bainbridge. Shimmering curtains of aurora shine across the starry sky tho ...
Astronomy Picture of the Day
6
© Sebastian Voltmer

AR3664Prom_Voltmer_1728.jpg

jpg
1.23 Mb
Astronomy Picture of the Day
6
🌌AR 3664 at the Sun's Edge What did the monster active region that created the recent auroras look like when at the Sun's edge? There, AR 3664 better showed its 3D structure. Pictured, a large multi-pronged solar prominence was captured extending from chaotic sunspot region AR 3664 out into space, just one example of the particle clouds ejected from this violent solar region. The Earth could eas ...
Astronomy Picture of the Day
7
© Sergio Eguivar

NGC2169LRGBQHY183HR.jpg

jpg
1.04 Mb
Astronomy Picture of the Day
7
🌌The 37 Cluster For the mostly harmless denizens of planet Earth, the brighter stars of open cluster NGC 2169 seem to form a cosmic 37. Did you expect 42? From our perspective, the improbable numerical asterism appears solely by chance. It lies at an estimated distance of 3,300 light-years toward the constellation Orion. As far as galactic or open star clusters go, NGC 2169 is a small one, spann ...
Astronomy Picture of the Day
8
© Marco Meniero

SunAr3664_Menario_1508.jpg

jpg
331.514 Kb
Astronomy Picture of the Day
8
🌌AR 3664 on a Setting Sun It was larger than the Earth. It was so big you could actually see it on the Sun's surface without magnification. It contained powerful and tangled magnetic fields as well as numerous dark sunspots. Labelled AR 3664, it developed into one of the most energetic areas seen on the Sun in recent years, unleashing a series of explosions that led to a surge of energetic parti ...
Astronomy Picture of the Day
8
© Mariusz Durlej

AuroraPoland_Durlej_1940.jpg

jpg
559.381 Kb
Astronomy Picture of the Day
8
🌌Red Aurora over Poland Northern lights don't usually reach this far south. Magnetic chaos in the Sun's huge Active Region 3664, however, produced a surface explosion that sent a burst of electrons, protons, and more massive, charged nuclei into the Solar System. A few days later, that coronal mass ejection (CME) impacted the Earth and triggered auroras that are being reported unusually far from ...
Astronomy Picture of the Day
9
© Franco Fantasia & Guiseppe Conzo (Gruppo Astrofili Palidoro)

SunAr3664_Fantasia_3216.jpg

jpg
1.88 Mb
Astronomy Picture of the Day
10
🌌AR 3664: Giant Sunspot Group Right now, one of the largest sunspot groups in recent history is crossing the Sun. Active Region 3664 is not only big -- it's violent, throwing off clouds of particles into the Solar System. Some of these CMEs are already impacting the Earth, and others might follow. At the extreme, these solar storms could cause some Earth-orbiting satellites to malfunction, the E ...
Astronomy Picture of the Day
11
🌌Simulation: Two Black Holes Merge Relax and watch two black holes merge. Inspired by the first direct detection of gravitational waves in 2015, this simulation plays in slow motion but would take about one third of a second if run in real time. Set on a cosmic stage, the black holes are posed in front of stars, gas, and dust. Their extreme gravity lenses the light from behind them into Einstein ...
Astronomy Picture of the Day
10
🌌The Galaxy, the Jet, and a Famous Black Hole Bright elliptical galaxy Messier 87 (M87) is home to the supermassive black hole captured in 2017 by planet Earth's Event Horizon Telescope in the first ever image of a black hole. Giant of the Virgo galaxy cluster about 55 million light-years away, M87 is rendered in blue hues in this infrared image from the Spitzer Space telescope. Though M87 appea ...
Astronomy Picture of the Day
13
🌌Visualization: A Black Hole Accretion Disk What would it look like to circle a black hole? If the black hole was surrounded by a swirling disk of glowing and accreting gas, then the great gravity of the black hole would deflect light emitted by the disk to make it look very unusual. The featured animated video gives a visualization. The video starts with you, the observer, looking toward the bl ...
Astronomy Picture of the Day
15

BlackHole_Simonnet_2491.jpg

jpg
5.93 Mb
Astronomy Picture of the Day
13
🌌Black Hole Accreting with Jet What happens when a black hole devours a star? Many details remain unknown, but observations are providing new clues. In 2014, a powerful explosion was recorded by the ground-based robotic telescopes of the All Sky Automated Survey for SuperNovae (Project ASAS-SN), with followed-up observations by instruments including NASA's Earth-orbiting Swift satellite. Compute ...
Astronomy Picture of the Day
12
🌌A Total Solar Eclipse from Sliver to Ring This is how the Sun disappeared from the daytime sky last month. The featured time-lapse video was created from stills taken from Mountain View, Arkansas, USA on 2024 April 8. First, a small sliver of a normally spotted Sun went strangely dark. Within a few minutes, much of the background Sun was hidden behind the advancing foreground Moon. Within an ho ...
Astronomy Picture of the Day
13

BhShredder_NASA_3482.jpg

jpg
847.085 Kb
Astronomy Picture of the Day
13
🌌A Black Hole Disrupts a Passing Star What happens to a star that goes near a black hole? If the star directly impacts a massive black hole, then the star falls in completely -- and everything vanishes. More likely, though, the star goes close enough to have the black hole's gravity pull away its outer layers, or disrupt, the star. Then, most of the star's gas does not fall into the black hole. ...
Astronomy Picture of the Day
16
© Yuri Beletsky

three_ats_beletsky.jpg

jpg
352.732 Kb
Astronomy Picture of the Day
14
🌌3 ATs Despite their resemblance to R2D2, these three are not the droids you're looking for. Instead, the enclosures house 1.8 meter Auxiliary Telescopes (ATs) at Paranal Observatory in the Atacama Desert region of Chile. The ATs are designed to be used for interferometry, a technique for achieving extremely high resolution observations, in concert with the observatory's 8 meter Very Large Teles ...
Astronomy Picture of the Day
18

STScI-WASP43b_temperature.png

png
301.159 Kb
Astronomy Picture of the Day
17
🌌Temperatures on Exoplanet WASP-43b A mere 280 light-years from Earth, tidally locked, Jupiter-sized exoplanet WASP-43b orbits its parent star once every 0.8 Earth days. That puts it about 2 million kilometers (less than 1/25th the orbital distance of Mercury) from a small, cool sun. Still, on a dayside always facing its parent star, temperatures approach a torrid 2,500 degrees F as measured at ...
Astronomy Picture of the Day
20
© Drew Evans

M100_DrewEvans.png

png
3.61 Mb
Astronomy Picture of the Day
18
🌌M100: A Grand Design Spiral Galaxy Majestic on a truly cosmic scale, M100 is appropriately known as a grand design spiral galaxy. The large galaxy of over 100 billion stars has well-defined spiral arms, similar to our own Milky Way. One of the brightest members of the Virgo Cluster of galaxies, M100, also known as NGC 4321 is 56 million light-years distant toward the well-groomed constellation ...
Astronomy Picture of the Day
20
© Roberto Colombari & Mauro Narduzzi

FishheadB_Colombari_2704.jpg

jpg
1.39 Mb
Astronomy Picture of the Day
17
🌌IC 1795: The Fishhead Nebula To some, this nebula looks like the head of a fish. However, this colorful cosmic portrait really features glowing gas and obscuring dust clouds in IC 1795, a star forming region in the northern constellation Cassiopeia. The nebula's colors were created by adopting the Hubble color palette for mapping narrowband emissions from oxygen, hydrogen, and sulfur atoms to b ...
Astronomy Picture of the Day
18
© Deep Sky Collective

GKPerWide_DSC_4329.jpg

jpg
9.62 Mb
Astronomy Picture of the Day
17
🌌GK Per: Nova and Planetary Nebula The star system GK Per is known to be associated with only two of the three nebulas pictured. At 1500 light years distant, Nova Persei 1901 (GK Persei) was the second closest nova yet recorded. At the very center is a white dwarf star, the surviving core of a former Sun-like star. It is surrounded by the circular Firework nebula, gas that was ejected by a therm ...
Astronomy Picture of the Day
20
© Juan Carlos Casado

CometTriple_Casado_2000.jpg

jpg
480.657 Kb
Astronomy Picture of the Day
19
🌌Comet, Planet, Moon Three bright objects satisfied seasoned stargazers of the western sky just after sunset earlier this month. The most familiar was the Moon, seen on the upper left in a crescent phase. The rest of the Moon was faintly visible by sunlight first reflected by the Earth. The bright planet Jupiter, the largest planet in the Solar System, is seen to the upper left. Most unusual was ...