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.

2006 June 23
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East of Antares
Credit & Copyright: Johannes Schedler (Panther Observatory)

Explanation: East of Antares, dark markings seem to sprawl through the crowded star fields toward the center of our Milky Way Galaxy. Cataloged in the early 20th century by astronomer E. E. Barnard, the obscuring interstellar dust clouds include B72, B77, B78, and B59, seen in silhouette against the starry background. Here, their combined shape suggests smoke rising from a pipe, and so the dark nebula's popular name is the Pipe Nebula. This gorgeous and expansive view was recorded in very dark skies over Hakos, Namibia. It covers a full 10 by 7 degree field in the pronounceable constellation Ophiuchus.

Tomorrow's picture: Pluto, Charon, Nix, Hydra

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