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.

2010 December 22
See Explanation.  Clicking on the picture will download
 the highest resolution version available.

Hidden Galaxy IC 342
Image Credit & Copyright: Ed Henry (Hay Creek Observatory)

Explanation: Similar in size to other large, bright spiral galaxies, IC 342 is a mere 7 million light-years distant in the long-necked, northern constellation Camelopardalis. A sprawling island universe, IC 342 would otherwise be a prominent galaxy in our night sky, but it is almost hidden from view behind the veil of stars, gas and dust clouds in the plane of our Milky Way galaxy. Even though IC 342's light is dimmed by intervening cosmic clouds, this remarkably sharp telescopic image traces the galaxy's own obscuring dust, blue star clusters, and glowing pink star forming regions along spiral arms that Wind far from the galaxy's core. IC 342 may have undergone a recent burst of star formation activity and is close enough to have gravitationally influenced the evolution of the local group of galaxies and the Milky Way.

Tomorrow's picture: Solstice Moon's Eclipse

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