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 December 4
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The Double Cluster
Credit & Copyright: Neil Fleming

Explanation: A lovely starfield in the heroic northern constellation Perseus holds this famous pair of open or galactic star clusters, h and Chi Persei. Also cataloged as NGC 869 (right) and NGC 884, both clusters are about 7,000 light-years away and contain stars much younger and hotter than the Sun. Separated by only a few hundred light-years, the clusters' ages based on their individual stars are similar - evidence that they were likely a product of the same star-forming region. Always a rewarding sight in binoculars, the Double Cluster is even visible to the unaided eye from dark locations. Star colors (and spikes) are enhanced in this beautiful, wide field, telescopic image.

Tomorrow's picture: high view

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