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.

2012 June 25
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Milky Way Over Piton de l'Eau
Image Credit & Copyright: Luc Perrot

Explanation: Sometimes, if you wait long enough for a clear and moonless night, the stars will come out with a vengeance. One such occasion occurred earlier this month at the Piton de l'Eau on Reunion Island. In the foreground, surrounded by bushes and trees, lies a water filled volcanic crater serenely reflecting starlight. A careful inspection near the image centre will locate Piton des Neiges, the highest peak on the island, situated several kilometres away. In the background, high above the lake, shines the light of hundreds of stars, most of which are within 100 light years, right in our stellar neighborhood. Far in the distance, arching majestically overhead, is the central band of our home Milky Way Galaxy, shining by the light of millions of stars each located typically thousands of light years away. The astrophotographer reports waiting for nearly two years for the sky and clouds to be just right to get the above shot.

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