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 December 15
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Seagull to Sirius
Image Credit & Copyright: Rogelio Bernal Andreo (Deep Sky Colours)

Explanation: This broad, beautiful mosaic spans almost 20 degrees across planet Earth's sky. The nebula-rich region lies near the edge of the Orion-Eridanus superbubble, filled with looping, expanding shells of gas and dust embedded in molecular clouds near the plane of the Milky Way Galaxy. Recognizable at the left is the expansive Seagull Nebula, composed of emission nebula NGC 2327, seen as the seagull's head, with the more diffuse IC 2177 as the wings and body. Some 3,800 light-years away, the wings of the Seagull Nebula spread about 240 light-years, still within our local spiral arm. The bluish light of Sirius, alpha star of Canis Major and brightest star in the night, easily dominates the scene at right but shines from a distance of only 8.6 light-years. Study the big picture and you should also be rewarded with star cluster Messier 41, also known as NGC 2287, not to mention the mighty Thor's Helmet.

Tomorrow's picture: meteors in moonlight


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