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.

2009 March 27
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The Seagull Nebula
Credit & Copyright: Frank Barrett, Steve Davis

Explanation: Images from two different cameras, a digital SLR and an astronomical CCD camera, are combined in this color starscape. Both cameras made use of the same telescope at the oceanside Winter Star Party in the Florida Keys, appropriately creating this portrait of the Seagull Nebula. The wide view covers a 4x3 degree swath across the plane of the Milky Way, near the direction of Sirius, alpha star of the constellation Canis Major. Of course, the broad region includes objects with other catalog designations: notably NGC 2327 - a compact, dusty emission region with an embedded massive star that forms the bird's head (above center), and IC 2177 - forming the sweeping arc of the seagull's wings. Dominated by the reddish glow of atomic hydrogen, the complex of cosmic gas and dust clouds with bright young stars spans over 250 light-years at an estimated 3,800 light-year distance.

Tomorrow's picture: Almahata Sitta

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