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 May 20
See Explanation.  Clicking on the picture will download
the highest resolution version available.

A Journey Through the Night Sky
Image Credit & Copyright: Nick Risinger (Photopic Sky Survey)

Explanation: Majestic nebulae and stars of our Milky Way Galaxy stretch across this panoramic image of the entire night sky. At full resolution, the 5 gigapixel mosaic was stitched together from over 37,000 images, the result of a season following, year long effort and 60,000 travel miles in search of still dark skies in the American west and the western Cape of South Africa. The well-planned project combined many exposures from the dark sites, intended to produce an inspiring view of the night to rival the brightness of day. An interactive journey through the scene will uncover a congeries of innumerable stars with vast clouds of gas and dust strewn along the galactic plane and central bulge, too faint to see with the unaided eye. Even galaxies of stars beyond our Milky Way can be found within the cosmic vista.

Tomorrow's picture: dawn's early light

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