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.

2022 April 16
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Orion Pines
Image Credit & Copyright: Juan Carlos Casado (Starry Earth, TWAN)

Explanation: Taken with a camera fixed to a tripod, many short exposures were aligned with the stars to unveil this beautiful, dark night sky. Captured near the rural village of Albanya at the northeastern corner of Spain, the three stars of Orion's belt stretch top center across the starry frame. Alnitak, the easternmost (left) of the belt stars is seen next to the more diffuse glow the Flame Nebula and the dark notch of the famous Horsehead. Easily visible to the naked-eye The Great Nebula of Orion is below the belt stars. A mere 1,500 light-years distant, it is the closest large stellar nursery to our fair planet. Best seen in photographs, the large faint arc of Barnard's Loop seems to embrace Orion's brighter stars and nebulae though. As the familiar northern winter constellation sets, near the western horizon at lower right Orion's apparently bright blue supergiant Rigel just touches the branches of a pine tree.

Tomorrow's picture: Endeavour in Orbit

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