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.

2008 April 24
See Explanation.
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Cygnus Without Stars
Credit & Copyright: Igor Chekalin

Explanation: The sky is full of hydrogen, though it can take a sensitive camera and telescope to see it. For example, this twelve-degree-wide view of the northern part of the constellation Cygnus reveals cosmic clouds of hydrogen gas along the plane of our Milky Way galaxy. The mosaic of telescopic images was recorded through an h-alpha filter that transmits only visible red light from glowing hydrogen atoms. Further digital processing has removed most of what is left of the myriad, point-like Milky Way stars from the scene, though bright Deneb, alpha star of Cygnus and head of the Northern Cross, remains near top center. Recognizable bright nebulae include NGC 7000 (North America Nebula), and IC 5070 (Pelican Nebula) at the upper left with IC 1318 (Butterfly Nebula) and NGC 6888 (Crescent Nebula) at lower right -- but others can be found throughout the wide field. Want the stars back? Just slide your cursor over the picture.

Tomorrow's picture: M86 and friends

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