Astronomy Picture of the Day

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.

2000 May 1
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The North America Nebula
Credit & Copyright: Jason Ware

Explanation: Here's a familiar shape in an unfamiliar location! This emission nebula is famous partly because it resembles Earth's continent of North America. To the right of the North America Nebula, cataloged as NGC 7000, is a less luminous Pelican Nebula. The two emission nebula measure about 50 light-years across, are located about 1500 light-years away, and are separated by a dark absorption cloud. The nebulae can be seen with binoculars from a dark location. Look for a small nebular patch north-east of bright star Deneb in the constellation of Cygnus. It is still unknown which star or stars ionize the red-glowing hydrogen gas.

Tomorrow's picture: An Iridium Sunset

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Authors & editors: Robert Nemiroff (MTU) & Jerry Bonnell (USRA)
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