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.

2003 April 4
See Explanation.
Moving the cursor over the image will bring up an annotated version.

Clusters and Nebulae of the Hexagon
Credit & Copyright: Axel Mellinger

Explanation: At first, the bright stars of the large asterism known as the (northern) Winter Hexagon might be hard to pick out in this gorgeous deep sky mosaic from December 2002. But placing your cursor over the picture will reveal the hexagon's outlines and the bright clusters and nebulae along a stunning portion of the Milky Way opposite the galactic center. The celestial highlights include M42 (aka the Great Nebula of Orion), Orion's Horsehead nebula, the Rosette and Cone nebulae, and nearby star clusters M45 (Pleiades) and Gemini's own M35. For now, this hexagon is sinking low in western evening skies.

Tomorrow's picture: Saturnday

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