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 November 17
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Pleiades to Hyades
Image Credit & Copyright: Rogelio Bernal Andreo

Explanation: This cosmic vista stretches almost 20 degrees across the gentle constellation Taurus. It begins at the Pleiades and ends at the Hyades, two of the best known star clusters in planet Earth's sky. At left, the lovely Pleiades star cluster is about 400 light-years away. In a familiar celestial scene, the cluster stars shine through dusty clouds that scatter blue starlight. At right, the V-shaped Hyades cluster looks more spread out compared to the compact Pleiades and lies much closer, 150 light-years distant. Of course, the Hyades cluster stars seem anchored by bright Aldebaran, a red giant star with a yellowish appearance. But Aldebaran actually lies only 65 light-years away, by chance along the line of sight to the Hyades cluster. Faint dust clouds found near the edge of the Taurus Molecular Cloud are also evident throughout the remarkable 12 panel mosaic. The wide field of view includes the youthful star T Tauri and Hind's variable nebula about four degrees left of Aldebaran on the sky.

Tomorrow's picture: the colorful side

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