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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 April 11
See Explanation.  Clicking on the picture will download
 the highest resolution version available.

The Big Picture
Credit & Copyright: Dennis di Cicco (TWAN) & Sean Walker, Skyandtelescope.com

Explanation: Intricate, glowing nebulae that shine in planet Earth's night sky are beautiful to look at in deep images made with telescopes and sensitive cameras. But they are faint and otherwise invisible to the naked-eye. That makes their relative location and extent on the sky difficult to appreciate. So, consider this impressive composite image of a wide region of the northern winter sky. With a total exposure time of 40 hours, the painstaking mosaic presents a nebula-rich expanse known as the Orion-Eridanus Superbubble above a house in suburban Boston, USA. Within the wide and deep view are nebulae more often seen in narrower views, including the Great Orion Nebula, the Rosette Nebula, the Seagull Nebula, the California Nebula, and Barnard's Loop. The familiar constellation of Orion itself is just above the foreground house. Brightest star Sirius is left of the roof, and the recognizable Pleiades star cluster is above the tree at the right. A version of the big picture that includes simple constellation guidelines is available here.


Tomorrow's picture: sparkling stars


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