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.

2011 January 3
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Winter Hexagon Over Stagecoach Colorado
Credit & Copyright: Jimmy Westlake (Colorado Mountain College)

Explanation: If you can find Orion, you might be able to find the Winter Hexagon. The Winter Hexagon involves some of the brightest stars visible, together forming a large and easily found pattern in the winter sky of Earth's northern hemisphere. The stars involved can usually be identified even in the bright night skies of a big city, although here they appear over darker Stagecoach, Colorado, USA.. The six stars that compose the Winter Hexagon are Aldebaran, Capella, Castor (and Pollux), Procyon, Rigel, and Sirius. Here, the band of our Milky Way Galaxy runs through the center of the Winter Hexagon, while the Pleiades open star cluster is visible just above. The Winter Hexagon asterism engulfs several constellations including much of the iconic steppingstone Orion.

Best Astronomy Images: APOD Editor to speak in Philadelphia and New York City this week
Tomorrow's picture: green flash

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Authors & editors: Robert Nemiroff (MTU) & Jerry Bonnell (UMCP)
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