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.

August 24, 1997
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The Snake Nebula in Ophiuchus
Credit and Copyright: B. Wallis and R. Provin

Explanation: What slithers there? The dark winding lanes visible in part of the constellation Ophiuchus belong to the Snake Nebula. The Snake Nebula is a series of dark absorption clouds made up of Interstellar dust. Interstellar dust grains - composed predominantly of carbon - absorb visible starlight and reradiate much of it in the infrared. This absorption causes stars behind the clouds to be obscured from view, hence the appearance of starless voids on the sky.

Tomorrow's picture: A Fisheye View of Comet Hale-Bopp

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Authors & editors: Robert Nemiroff (MTU) & Jerry Bonnell (USRA)
NASA Technical Rep.: Jay Norris. Specific rights apply.
A service of: LHEA at NASA/ GSFC
&: Michigan Tech. U.