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.

2017 February 21

An Active Night over the Magellan Telescopes
Image Credit & Copyright: Yuri Beletsky (Carnegie Las Campanas Observatory, TWAN);
Music Credit & License: Airglow by Club 220

Explanation: The night sky is always changing. Featured here are changes that occurred over a six hour period in late 2014 June behind the dual 6.5-meter Magellan Telescopes at Las Campanas Observatory in Chile. The initial red glow on the horizon is airglow, a slight cooling of high air by the emission of specific colors of light. Bands of airglow are also visible throughout the time-lapse video. Early in the night, car headlights flash on the far left. Satellites quickly shoot past as they circle the Earth and reflect sunlight. A long and thin cloud passes slowly overhead. The Large Magellanic Cloud rises on the left, while the expansive central band of our Milky Way Galaxy arches and pivots as the Earth rotates. As the night progresses, the Magellan telescopes swivel and stare as they explore pre-determined patches of the night sky. Every night, every sky changes differently, even though the phenomena at play are usually the same.

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