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.

2001 May 13
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Crater Copernicus
Credit: Apollo 17 Crew, NASA

Explanation: One of the more prominent craters on the Moon is named Copernicus. Copernicus is a large young crater visible with binoculars slightly northwest of the centre of the Moon's Earth-facing hemisphere. Copernicus is distinguished by its size and by the many bright rays pointing out from it. Although Copernicus is relatively young for a lunar crater, it was formed nearly a billion years ago by a colossal impact. The centre of Copernicus is about 93 kilometres across. The above picture was taken in 1972 by the last human mission to the moon: Apollo 17. The prospects for a return have been boosted recently with increased evidence of ice deposits near the lunar poles.

Tomorrow's picture: A Cerro Tololo Sky

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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.