Astronomy Picture of the Day

Great Rift Near the Center of the Milky Way
Image Credit & Copyright: Rogelio Bernal Andreo (Deep Sky Colors)

Explanation: Over 100 telescopic image panels in this stunning vertical mosaic span about 50 degrees across the night sky. They follow part of the Great Rift, the dark river of dust and molecular gas that stretches along the plane of our Milky Way Galaxy. Start at top center and you can follow the galactic equator down through brighter stars in constellations Aquila, Serpens Cauda, and Scutum. At the bottom is Sagittarius near the center of the Milky Way. Along the way you’ll encounter many obscuring dark nebulae hundreds of light-years distant flanked by bands of Milky Way starlight, and the telltale reddish glow of starforming regions. Notable Messier objects include The Eagle (M16) and Omega (M17) nebulae, the Sagittarius Star Cloud (M24), the beautiful Trifid (M20) and the deep Lagoon (M8).

Tomorrow’s picture: pixels in space

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