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.
March 5, 1998
Explanation: This gorgeous view of stars, nebulae, and the Milky Way comes from the dark night sky above the lovely island of La Palma in the Canaries archipelago. The picture was made by a group of experienced astrophotographers who traveled there to take advantage of the ideal observing conditions near La Palma's Observatorio del Roque de los Muchachos. Skygazers can easily pick out several of their favourite astronomical objects in this wide angle time exposure which covers about 40 degrees on winter the sky. Faint stars along the plane of our Galaxy compose the delicate, luminous band of the Milky Way stretching across the image from the bottom left. The familiar constellation of Orion the hunter is also easy to find, with glowing nebulae highlighting the hunter's belt and sword. Orion's famous red giant star Betelgeuse, near picture centre, has a yellowish cast and Rigel is the bright star in Orion at lower right. Brilliant white Sirius, near the bottom, is the brightest star in the picture (and in Earth's night sky). Sirius, is part of the constellation Canis Major (Big Dog). Across the Milky Way, above and to the left of Sirius, is slightly less brilliant Procyon, brightest star of Canis Minor. A V-shaped group of yellowish stars at the upper right, part of Taurus the bull, is dominated by the red giant Aldebaran.
Authors & editors:
NASA Technical Rep.: Jay Norris. Specific rights apply.
A service of: LHEA at NASA/ GSFC
&: Michigan Tech. U.