It’s always a wondrous experience to look up at the night sky and gaze at the beautiful constellations, but the naked eye can only see so much. However, with the help of NASA, astronomers, astrophotographers, and other scientific contributors, you can view the sights of our universe directly on the Astronomy Picture of the Day website.
To be clear, this is not a new thing. The exciting website was founded in 1995 by friends Robert J. Nemiroff and Jerry T. Bonnell. The two are both professional astronomers and were once even office-mates at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. Across the top of the homepage, it says “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.” In fact, the site is the largest collection of annotated astronomy images on the internet.
The site is also available—as a mirror site—in dozens of other countries and languages, making it easier for everyone to enjoy the images every day. Of course, the site has companion mobile apps for iOS and Android as well, so you can get your astronomy fix on the go.
Only the current day’s image is actively displayed on the site, but a quick visit to the archive will take you to a list of all past images listed by date, starting with the most recent. Likewise, you can also go to the site’s index and view pictures by topic, like Space Stations, Binary Stars, Dark Matter, Jupiter’s Moons, Messier Objects, or Quasars and Active Galactic Nuclei.
The site itself is pretty simple and straightforward and keeps the focus on the thousands of beautiful images it’s posted over the decades, like Pleiades: The Seven Sisters Star Cluster, NGC 1499: The California Nebula, Stars over an Erupting Volcano, Galaxies in the River, The Magnificent Horsehead Nebula, and the Ghost Aurora over Canada. Every image is high resolution as well. Clicking on any image will open a larger and higher-resolution version in a new tab, which you can spend hours staring at.