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 November 4
See Explanation.  Clicking on the picture will download
 the highest resolution version available.

M78: Stardust and Starlight
Credit & Copyright: Stephan Messner

Explanation: Interstellar dust clouds and bright nebulae abound in the fertile constellation of Orion. One of the brightest, M78, is just below center in this sharp widefield view, covering an area north of Orion's belt. At a distance of about 1,500 light-years, the bluish nebula itself is about 5 light-years across. Its blue tint is due to dust preferentially reflecting the blue light of hot, young stars in the region. Dark dust lanes and other nebulae can easily be traced through this gorgeous skyscape that also includes the remarkable McNeil's Nebula -- a newly recognized nebula associated with the formation of a sun-like star.

Tomorrow's picture: starlight-weekend

< | Archive | Index | Search | Calendar | Glossary | Education | About APOD | Discuss | >

Authors & editors: Robert Nemiroff (MTU) & Jerry Bonnell (USRA)
NASA Web Site Statements, Warnings, and Disclaimers
NASA Official: Jay Norris. Specific rights apply.
A service of: EUD at NASA / GSFC
& Michigan Tech. U.