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.

May 30, 1996

Sunshine, Earthshine at the Lunar Limb
Credit: The Clementine Project

Explanation: This dramatic image of the Moon's edge against a background of distant stars is from a perspective impossible for groundbased telescopes. It was taken by a star tracker camera onboard the Clementine spacecraft. The Solar Corona, the Sun's outer atmosphere, is visible shining brightly behind the lunar limb while the Moon's surface is illuminated by Earthshine, sunlight reflected from the Earth to the Moon. As pictured, the part of the Moon in shadow is the lunar farside, the side not visible from Earth. The highly successful unmanned Clementine probe explored the Moon from lunar orbit during March and April of 1994. Its star tracker cameras were normally used for celestial navigation, producing wide angle images showing relative positions of stars.

Tomorrow's picture: The Pulsar Powered Crab

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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.