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.

February 1, 1998
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NGC 1977: Blue Reflection Nebula in Orion
Credit: Anglo-Australian Telescope photograph by David Malin
Copyright: Anglo-Australian Telescope Board

Explanation: The Orion Nebula is visible to the unaided eye as a fuzzy patch near the famous belt of three stars in the constellation Orion. The above picture captures a part of the Orion Nebula that primarily reflects light from bright Orion stars. This reflection nebula appears blue because the blue light from the neighboring stars scatters more efficiently from nebula gas than does red light. The dark lanes are composed of mostly interstellar dust - fine needle-shaped carbon grains.

Tomorrow's picture: A Triple Eclipse on Jupiter

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Authors & editors: Robert Nemiroff (MTU) & Jerry Bonnell (USRA)
NASA Technical Rep.: Jay Norris. Specific rights apply.
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&: Michigan Tech. U.