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Today’s APOD is especially magnificent. Here’s a close crop of the fully eclipsed Moon to provide better “dashboard” detail. Click the photo for high-res milky-wayness.

Eclipsed Moon in the Milky Way 
Image Credit & Copyright: Babak Tafreshi (TWAN)

Explanation: On June 15, the totally eclipsed Moon was very dark, with the Moon itself positioned on the sky toward the center of our Milky Way Galaxy. This simple panorama captures totality from northern Iran in 8 consecutive exposures each 40 seconds long. In the evocative scene, the dark of the eclipsed Moon competes with the Milky Way’s faint glow. The tantalizing red lunar disk lies just above the bowl of the dark Pipe Nebula, to the right of the glowing Lagoon and Trifid nebulae and the central Milky Way dust clouds. At the far right, the wide field is anchored by yellow Antares and the colorful clouds of Rho Ophiuchi. To identify other sights of the central Milky Way just slide your cursor over the image. The total phase of this first lunar eclipse of 2011 lasted an impressive 100 minutes. Parts of the eclipse were visible from most of planet Earth, with notable exceptions of North and Central America.

APOD

TWAN Photographer Babak A. Tafreshi

The Starry Night of Alamut 
Image Credit & CopyrightBabak Tafreshi (TWAN)

Explanation: A meteor’s streak and the arc of the Milky Way hang over the imposing mountain fortress of Alamut in this starry scene. Found in the central Alborz Mountainsof Iran, Alamut Castle was built into the rock in the 9th century. The name means Eagle’s Nest. Home of the legendary Assassins featured in the adventure movie Prince of Persia, Alamut was also historically a center for libraries and education. For a time, it was the residence of important 13th century Persian scholar and astronomer Nasir al-Din al-Tusi. To identify the stars in a night sky Tusi certainly pondered, just slide your cursor over the image. Highlights include bright white stars Deneb (in Cygnus), Vega, and Altair, nebulae near the Galactic Center, and the dark obscuring dust clouds of the Milky Way also known as the Great Rift. Lights at the lower right are from small villages and the capital Tehran, over 100 kilometers away to the southwest.

APOD: 2010 May 14 - Iguacu Starry Night

Image Credit & Copyright: Babak Tafreshi (TWAN)

The arc of the southern Milky Way shone brightly on this starry night. Captured on May 4, in the foreground of this gorgeous skyview is the rainforest near the spectacular Iguaçu Falls and national park at the border of Brazil and Argentina. Looking skyward along the Milky Way’s arc from the left are Alpha and Beta Centauri, the Coalsack, the Southern Cross, and the Carina Nebula. Sirius, brightest star in planet Earth’s night sky is at the far right. Brilliant Canopus, second brightest star in the night, and our neighboring galaxies the Large and Small Magellanic clouds, are also included in the scene. For help finding them, just slide your cursor over the image. Much closer to home, lights near the center along the horizon are from Argentina’s Iguazú Falls International Airport.

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