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Thursday, February 20, 2014

Astronomy Picture of the Day

Rocket, Meteor, and Milky Way over Thailand 

Can the night sky appear both serene and surreal? Perhaps classifiable as serene in the panoramic image below taken February 7 are the faint lights of small towns glowing across a dark foreground landscape of Doi Inthanon National Park in Thailand, as well as the numerous stars glowing across a dark background starscape.

Also visible are the planet Venus and a band of zodiacal light on the image left.

Unusual events are also captured, however. First, the central band of our Milky Way Galaxy, while usually a common sight, appears here to hover surreally above the ground.

Next, a fortuitous streak of a meteor was captured on the image right.

Perhaps the most unusual component is the bright spot just to the left of the meteor. That spot is the plume of a rising Ariane 5 rocket, launched a few minutes before from KourouFrench Guiana.

How lucky was the astrophotographer to capture the rocket launch in his image? Pretty lucky -- the image was not timed to capture the rocket. Also lucky was how photogenic -- and perhaps surreal -- the rest of the sky turned out to be.

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Image Credit & Copyright: Matipon Tangmatitham