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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 September 26
See Explanation.  Clicking on the picture will download
 the highest resolution version available.

Gigagalaxy Zoom: Milky Way
Credit: ESO / Serge Brunier, Frederic Tapissier - Copyright: Serge Brunier (TWAN)

Explanation: Our magnificent Milky Way Galaxy sprawls across this ambitious all-sky panorama. In fact, at 800 million pixels the full resolution mosaic strives to show all the stars the eye can see in planet Earth's night sky. Part of ESO's Gigagalaxy Zoom Project, the mosaicked images were recorded over several months of 2008 and 2009 at exceptional astronomical sites; the Atacama Desert in the southern hemisphere and the Canary Islands in the northern hemisphere. Also capturing bright planets and even a comet, the individual frames were stitched together and mapped into a single, flat, apparently seamless 360 by 180 degree view. The final result is oriented so the plane of our galaxy runs horizontally through the middle with the bulging Galactic Center at image center. Below and right of center are the Milky Way's satellite galaxies, the Magellanic Clouds.


Tomorrow's picture: to fly free


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