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.

2002 September 18
See Explanation.  Clicking on the picture will download
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A Sagittarius Starscape
Credit & Copyright: David Malin (AAO), ROE, UKS Telescope

Explanation: Many vast star fields in the plane of our Milky Way Galaxy are rich in clouds of stars, dust, and gas. First and foremost, visible in the above picture are millions of stars, many of which are similar to our Sun. Next huge filaments of dark interstellar dust run across the image and block the light from millions of more stars yet further across our Galaxy. The bright red region on the left is the Omega Nebula, an emission nebula of mostly hot hydrogen gas also known as M17. A small bright grouping of stars near the image center is the open cluster M18, while the long bright streak of stars just right of center is M24. On the far right of the image is the picturesque red emission nebula IC 1283 flanked by two blue reflection nebulas NGC 6589 and NGC 6590. These objects are visible with a small telescope toward the constellation of Sagittarius.

Tomorrow's picture: Space Oasis

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Authors & editors: Robert Nemiroff (MTU) & Jerry Bonnell (USRA)
NASA Technical Rep.: Jay Norris. Specific rights apply.
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& Michigan Tech. U.