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.

2016 June 29
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From Alpha to Omega in Crete
Image Credit & Copyright: Johannes Schedler (Panther Observatory)

Explanation: This beautiful telephoto composition spans light-years in a natural night skyscape from the island of Crete. Looking south, exposures both track the stars and record a fixed foreground in three merged panels that cover a 10x12 degree wide field of view. The May 15 waxing gibbous moonlight illuminates the church and mountainous terrain. A mere 18 thousand light-years away, huge globular star cluster Omega Centauri (NGC 5139) shining above gives a good visual impression of its appearance in binoculars on that starry night. Active galaxy Centaurus A (NGC 5128) is near the top of the frame, some 11 million light-years distant. Also found toward the expansive southern constellation Centaurus and about the size of our own Milky Way is edge on spiral galaxy NGC 4945. About 13 million light-years distant it's only a little farther along, and just above the horizon at the right.

Tomorrow's picture: the artificial night

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