FromQuarkstoQuasars

Astronomy Photo of the Day: 04/30/14 – Night Over Crater Lake

Image Credit: John H. Moore
Image Credit: John H. Moore

This captivating image was taken by John H. Moore and magnificent in more ways than one.

First, the picture was taken at Crater Lake. Located in Southern Oregon (U.S.A.), this lake is like no other. It was created about 7,700 years ago when a volcano erupted with such magnitude that it literally blew itself up. This event resulted in the formation of a caldera lake. Crater Lake itself has pristine, clear water that allows visitors to gaze deep into its depths. Crater lake is the deepest lake in the United States and the ninth deepest in the world.

Moving our attention upward, we see the green fingers of airglow stretching across the sky. Airglow is caused by several different processes. One of the biggest contributors to airglow is recombination; this is when atomic nuclei in Earth’s upper atmosphere are recombined with electrons that were ionized during the day.

Finally, crowning the scene is the majestic band of the Milky Way arching across the sky.

Image Credit: John H. Moore; Annotation: Judy Schmidt
Image Credit: John H. Moore; Annotation: Judy Schmidt

There are several constellations visible in this picture, but most notably, the Andromeda galaxy makes an appearance low in the sky, just above the light bubble from some nearby city. The Andromeda galaxy is the furthest object we can see with the naked eye. It’s 2.4-million light years away, and is also the only other large spiral galaxy in our Local Group. It’s also headed right for us and will collide with the Milky Way in 5 or so billion years.

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