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.

2019 January 12

See Explanation.  Clicking on the picture will download
the highest resolution version available.

Milky Way Falls

Image Credit &

Yuri Beletsky

Las Campanas Observatory,


It can be the driest place on planet Earth, but
water still flows in Chile’s Atacama desert, high in the mountains.

After discovering this small creek with running water, the photographer
returned to the site to watch the Milky Way rise in the dark
southern skies, calculating the moment when Milky Way and
precious flowing water would meet.

In the panoramic night skyscape,
stars and nebulae immersed
in the glow along the Milky Way itself also shared that moment
with the Milky Way’s
satellite galaxies
the Large and Small
Magellanic clouds above the horizon
at the right.

Bright star Beta Centauri is poised at the very top of the waterfall.

Above it lies the dark expanse of the
and the stars of the Southern Cross.

Tomorrow’s picture: when stars explode

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Authors & editors:
Robert Nemiroff
(MTU) &
Jerry Bonnell (UMCP)
NASA Official: Phillip Newman
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