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CNN SATURDAY MORNING NEWS

Astronomy Picture of Day

Aired September 21, 2002 - 07:32   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

MILES O'BRIEN, CNN ANCHOR: Now this Astronomy Picture of the Day goes back as far as the popularization of the Internet. The discovery of what is now Netscape, if you will.
Let's take a look at the guys behind it. It's an art gallery of astronomy, featuring explosive supernovas, deep black holes, flaring comets, and breathtaking earth views.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

O'BRIEN (voice-over): Every day since the web was in its infancy, two enthusiastic astronomers have posted a new image to Astronomy Picture of the Day.

ROBERT J. NEMIROFF, NASA ASTROPHYSICIST: I think that a lot of these would look great in a gallery. They're very different, there's a lot of different colors involved, there's a lot of different contrasts, a lot of different textures. And, it has the added bonus of being scientifically interesting. It's scientifically true.

O'BRIEN: Robert Nimiroff and Jerry Donnell (ph) choose the images based on their educational value, newsworthiness, or just plain beauty.

NEMIROFF: I mean, there's a "wow" factor here. I usually know within a second or two of seeing a picture whether it's a sure thing for The Astronomy Picture of the Day, because I just say "Wow, what is going on there?"

O'BRIEN: Every image is archived on the site. Underneath each picture is a brief explanation so that the site is not just eye candy but educational, as well. Including images that give us a new perspective.

NEMIROFF: Recently, people put together a bunch of pictures from the moon in this great panorama. You can look all the way around in the circle and see what the astronauts saw. The face on Mars, which the best explanation is, it's just a rock formation, but there's a lot of conspiracy people out there who think it's more, and the picture of the earth at night. And, I think it's one of our most popular images.

O'BRIEN: Some images come from telescopes around the world. Others from the Hubble Telescope, peering deep into space. Others, from amateur photographers, an artist's renditions of black holes too distant for detail.

NEMIROFF: And you can just look at it and feel that you're there. O'BRIEN: Many people take the images from the site and post them as wallpaper on their computers, or, create a slide show screen saver.

NEMIROFF: Our biggest demographic is the intelligent professional who works at some company and has a computer on the desk, has a web browser, and they check us out. We've got e-mail that we're many people's morning cup of coffee.

O'BRIEN: Whether you're a space junkie or just enjoy looking up at the sky, Astronomy Picture of the Day is worth the visit.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

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