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Astronomy Picture Of The Day

The study of space objects such as planets, galaxies and stars is Astronomy. It’s important science, but for many people an enjoyable hobby. That’s why when a web

Artist's conception of Cassini–Huygens as it e...

Artist’s conception of Cassini–Huygens as it enters Saturn’s orbit (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

site or magazine offers an astronomy picture of the day it’s likely to garner a great deal of attention. There are plenty of pictures to choose from, and plenty of interesting objects out there to keep people looking.

NASA is a primary source for an astronomy photographs. Their web site, nasa.gov, presents a new photo every day. It also has a multimedia center with video and images. These could be great sources for a person to create their own site that offers a new image each day. On November 5, 2008, NASA’s picture of the day was a close view of Saturn’s moon, Enceladus.

It was taken by the Cassini space craft as it passed about 1,700 kilometers from the surface. The image is so detailed that features about the size of a bus are viewable. One interesting feature of the ice on Enceladus is that it reflects 99% of the light that falls onto it. Talk about snow blind. The moon is so interesting that Cassini will continue to fly by for more images later in its mission.

NASA maintains an archive of all the astronomy photos of the day dating all the way back to June 16 of 1995. That image was of Earth as if it had the density of a neutron star. The image is a computer generation. The most interesting feature is that the constellation Orion is visible twice. The reason is that a Neutron star is so dense that light, even from behind the star, is visible as it is pulled around by the intense gravity. This distortion causes double images of some objects.

September 8, 1995 brought a very interesting image of the central part of our own galaxy from the NASA COBE Satellite. This image would normally not be visible because the dust in the galaxy obscures it in the visible spectrum. But COBE scans in infrared, so it produced the amazing image of our very symmetrical galaxy.

January 1, 2000 and January 1, 2001 shared the same image, a drawing really, of the universe as defined in the last millennium. The reason both dates shared this image is that most people considered the year 2000 as the first year of the third millennium. In reality January 1, 2001 was the beginning of millennium #3. NASA decided to just go with both. The image found at shows the progression of our picture of the universe from orbs that rotate around the Earth all the way to the big bang event creating an ever expanding cosmos.

NASA has a lot more days with their own astronomy picture of the day. Visit the web site, NASA.gov, to see them.