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.

2005 August 30
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Albireo: A Bright and Beautiful Double
Credit & Copyright: Richard Yandrick (

Explanation: Sometimes, even a small telescope can help unlock a hidden beauty of the heavens. Such is the case of the bright double star Albireo. Seen at even slight magnification, Albireo unfolds from a bright single point into a beautiful double star of strikingly different colors. At 380 light years distant, the two bright stars of Albireo are comparatively far from each other and take about 75,000 years to complete a single orbit. The brighter yellow star is itself a binary star system, but too close together to be resolved even with a telescope. Albireo, pictured above, is the fifth brightest star system toward the constellation of the Swan (Cygnus) and easily visible to the unaided eye.

Tomorrow's picture: rays of dark

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