Explanation: A broad expanse of glowing gas and dust presents a bird-like visage to astronomers from planet Earth, suggesting its popular moniker – The Seagull Nebula. Using narrowband image data, this 3-panel mosaic of the cosmic bird covers a 2.5 degree swath across the plane of the Milky Way, near the direction of Sirius, alpha star of the constellation Canis Major. Likely part of a larger shell structure swept up by successive supernova explosions, the broad Seagull Nebula is cataloged as Sh2-296 and IC 2177. The prominent bluish arc below and right of center is a bow shock from runaway star FN Canis Majoris. This complex of gas and dust clouds with other stars of the Canis Majoris OB1 association spans over 200 light-years at the Seagull Nebula’s estimated 3,800 light-year distance.
Tomorrow’s picture: pixels in space