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SYFY WIRE Bad Astronomy

Parallel worlds

By Phil Plait

I have got to get to Norway. Last year, on September 25, 2011 from Ifjord, Finnmark, Norway, photographer Tommy Eliassen took this jaw-dropping photo of the night sky:

[Click to enstupefyenate.]

I know, seriously, right?

The northern lights play along the right while the Milky Way itself hangs vertically next to it; parallel structures seemingly adjacent but separated by thousands of trillions of kilometers...

And to top it off, a meteor plinks across the sky between them. Meteors burn up about 100 km or so above our planet's surface, which is at just about the same altitude that's the lower limit of green aurorae. Amazingly, that meteor is probably the closest thing you can see in this picture above the clouds*.

You can see more of Eliassen's amazing aurora pictures on his Facebook page or on 500px, where I originally found his work. Trust me, it's time well spent.

Image credit: Tommy Eliassen, used by permission.

* Since it cuts across the two parallel background objects at an angle, it must be a skewting star.

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