Is a hole in the universe opening Wyoming?

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You'd be forgiven for having that reaction to this photo of the Ames Monument, a pyramid in Wyoming built to commemorate the transcontinental railroad. But that strange, unearthly light is just the beginning of the weirdness on display here.

For the record, that strange light isn't a wormhole opening up over Wyoming - it's just the Moon. But because the image was captured just at the right moment as the Moon was setting, we can see both a bright lunar corona and a halo surrounding it.

This image, created by Colorado State University's Robert Arn, stitches together several different photos taken over the course of one night to create a single, 360-degree landscape. Because the photographs were taken at all different times, the shadows and light levels are weirdly mixed, creating a mosaic that you could never hope to see in real life. Those well-versed in the night sky should also be able to see how the stars are all wrong, with various constellations warped completely out of shape because of the random times at which photographs were taken.


If you look to the right of the image at the Ames Monument, you can see an interesting mixture of scales. All above the Ames Monument is the central band of the Milky Way galaxy, while at its bottom rights are the lights of the city of Cheyenne, creating a cool juxtaposition of the human scale and the cosmic.

You can see the full image over at NASA, and you can see a full discussion of all the weirdness in the photograph here.

Image by Robert Arn.