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 December 2
See Explanation.  Clicking on the picture will download
 the highest resolution version available.

Nearby Spiral M33
Credit & Copyright: T. A. Rector & M. Hanna, NOAO, AURA, NSF

Explanation: Spiral galaxy M33 is a mid-sized member of our Local Group of Galaxies. M33 is also called the Triangulum Galaxy for the constellation in which it resides. About four times smaller (in radius) than our Milky Way Galaxy and the Andromeda Galaxy (M31), it is much larger than the many of the local dwarf spheroidal galaxies. M33's proximity to M31 causes it to be thought by some to be a satellite galaxy of this more massive galaxy. M33's proximity to our Milky Way Galaxy causes it to appear more than twice the angular size of the Full Moon, and be visible with a good pair of binoculars. The above high-resolution image from the 0.90-m telescope at Kitt Peak National Observatory is a four-color composite.

Tomorrow's picture: solar eclipse

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