Arts & Culture / A Little Piece of Space

One of our daily internet rituals (one that accompanies our regular checks of facebook, news sites, twitter, google reader… the list goes on) is a visit to NASA’s Astronomy Picture of the Day. One of the simplest websites we’ve ever come across, it presents a single new picture of the universe and brief explanation of the picture each day. It has no home page and does not have a particularly handsome design. Yet, unusually for the world wide web, it manages to create a moment of space and perspective each day. A chance to sit and wonder at, to learn about the world (and beyond) without leaving your desk. Today’s image, above, is described thus:

A Pileus Iridescent Cloud Over Ethiopia

Explanation: Yes, but how many dark clouds have a multicolored lining? Pictured, behind this darker cloud, is a pileus iridescent cloud, a group of water droplets that have a uniformly similar size and so together diffract different colors of sunlight by different amounts. The above image was taken just after the picturesque sight was noticed by chance by a photographer in Ethiopia. A more detailed picture of the same cloud shows not only many colors, but unusual dark and wavy bands whose origins are thought related to wave disturbances in the cloud.

For more from NASA’s Astronomy Picture of the Day click here

Photographs by Esther Havens, Light the World (above) and ESO (on our home page)


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