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 September 25
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Gigagalaxy Zoom: Galactic Center
Credit: ESO / Stéphane Guisard - Copyright: Stéphane Guisard

Explanation: From Sagittarius to Scorpius, the central Milky Way is a truly beautiful part of planet Earth's night sky. The gorgeous region is captured here, an expansive gigapixel mosaic of 52 fields spanning 34 by 20 degrees in 1200 individual images and 200 hours of exposure time. Part of ESO's Gigagalaxy Zoom Project, the images were collected over 29 nights with a small telescope under the exceptionally clear, dark skies of the ESO Paranal Observatory in Chile. The breathtaking cosmic vista shows off intricate dust lanes, bright nebulae, and star clusters scattered through our galaxy's rich central starfields. Starting on the left, look for the Lagoon and Trifid nebulae, the Cat's Paw, the Pipe dark nebula, and the colorful clouds of Rho Ophiuchi and Antares (right).

Tomorrow's picture: zoom out

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