Astronomy Picture of the Day
NASA's daily look into the marvels of the cosmos
NASA scientists are considered to be a serious lot, but they are not without senses of humor, as an April Fool's Day posting proves. Under a green-tinted photo of the moon's surface taken in 1965 by a Ranger probe, the headline reads "Hubble Resolves Expiration Date for Green Cheese Moon." The standard explanation paragraph follows:
"Explanation: Using the new camera on the Hubble Space Telescope, astronomers have been able to confirm that the Moon is made of green cheese. The telling clue was the resolution of a marked date [2006APR01] after which the Moon may go bad. Controversy still exists, however, over whether the date resolved is truly an expiration date or just a "sell by" date. "To be cautious, we should completely devour the Moon by tomorrow," a spokesperson advised. Happy April Fool's Day from the folks at APOD.... The popular Moon is Made of Green Cheese Myth can be traced back almost 500 years. It has been used historically in context to indicate a claim so clearly false that no one — not even April Fools — will believe it."
More common on the site are spectacular images of galaxies, stars, and emerging universes thousands of light-years from Earth, captured by the Hubble Space Telescope. At the NASA website for the Astronomy Picture of the Day (APOD), you'll find images that range from shrinking ice sheets on Earth to the Big Dipper Cluster; the March 29, 2006 solar eclipse; aurora borealis over Norway; inside the Eagle Nebula; and potential supernova star Eta Carinae.
The APOD website was built and is maintained by two professional astronomers, Robert Nemiroff of Michigan Technological University in Houghton, Michigan, and Jerry Bonnell of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland USA. The archive holds images from the site's beginnings in June of 1995 until today. With mirror sites around the planet and invitations for browsers to submit their own astronomical images, APOD is a rich respository of earthly and intergalactic beauty.