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.

2000 July 1
See Explanation.  Clicking on the picture will download 
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Ultraviolet Earth from the Moon
Credit: G. Carruthers (NRL) et al., Far UV Camera, Apollo 16, NASA

Explanation: Here's a switch: the above picture is of the Earth taken from a lunar observatory! This false colour picture shows how the Earth glows in ultraviolet (UV) light. UV light is so blue humans can't see it. Very little UV light is transmitted through the Earth's atmosphere but what sunlight does make it through can cause a sunburn. The Far UV Camera / Spectrograph deployed and left on the Moon by the crew of Apollo 16 took the above picture. The part of the Earth facing the Sun reflects much UV light, but perhaps more interesting is the side facing away from the Sun. Here bands of UV emission are also apparent. These bands are the result of aurorae and are caused by charged particles expelled by the Sun.

Tomorrow's picture: July GRB

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Authors & editors: Robert Nemiroff (MTU) & Jerry Bonnell (USRA)
NASA Technical Rep.: Jay Norris. Specific rights apply.
A service of: LHEA at NASA/GSFC
& Michigan Tech. U.