Pantheon - Earth and Moon

For almost two thousand years the rays of the sun have traced a steady path on the inside of the Pantheon's cupola.

I took this photo straight up from the floor of the Pantheon in Rome on Feb. 26th, 2007, at 11 minutes 45 seconds past 2pm. That's what the exif data tells me anyway  :-)

Only back home did I realise that the sky seen through the Oculus and the spot of sunlight shining through it onto the inside of the dome, bear an eerie resemblance to the Earth and the Moon. There's even an "atmosphere" around the Earth and "craters" on the Moon, at least to my imagination!

The Pantheon was built in the 2nd century a.D. as a Temple to all Gods. Unlike most other monuments of the Roman Empire it was preserved because it was reconsecrated as a Catholic Church in 609. The 9-meter wide Oculus at the top of the dome is the only source of light in the building. There is a good text about the amazing structure on,_Rome

I haven't done anything to the photo, except a bit of saturation, brightness and contrast correction, as well as a wee bit of sharpening. To get the image, I chose manual exposure on my Canon 350D and exposed for the blue sky seen through the Oculus of the Pantheon.

The photo was chosen as: NASA Astronomy Picture of the Day, April 20, 2007

For the story of how I took the picture, go here.

Large-size version of the image here: Pantheon - Earth and Moon

How it looks with brightness turned up: Pantheon - Dome Structure

My other photos of the Pantheon, February 2007: Pantheon, Rome

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Photo with a Canon 350D by Søren Dalsgaard

copyright: Søren Dalsgaard 2007