Astronomy Picture of the Day

Warped Sky: Star Trails Panorama

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Warped Sky: Star Trails Panorama

Explanation: What's happened to the sky? A time warp, of sorts, and a digital space warp too. The time warp occurs because the above image captured in a single frame a four hour exposure of the night sky. Prominent and picturesque star trails are visible. The space warp occurs because the above image is actually a full 360 degree panorama, horizontally compressed to fit your browser. As the Earth rotated, stars appeared to circle both the South Celestial Pole, on the left, and the North Celestial Pole, which occurs just below the horizon on the right. The above image captured the sky over Mudgee, New South Wales, Australia, including the domes of two large telescopes artificially lit by red light. A horizontally unwarped image is visible by clicking on the above image.

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