Astronomy Picture of the Day

Each day a different image or photograph of our fascinating universe long with a brief explanation written by a professional astronomer is provided by the Goddard Spaceflight Center

May 1, 2011
"In the center of the above image lies Barnard 163, a nebula of molecular gas and dust so thick that visible light can't shine through it."
Apr 30, 2011
A Chandra image of the remnant of the 1572 supernova
Apr 29, 2011
""Spanning about 500 thousand light-years, this stunning view also reveals new star clusters and matter flung far from the scene of the accident by gravitational tidal forces.
Apr 28, 2011
"On June 4, 2010 Regulus, alpha star of the constellation Leo, and wandering planet Mars were at about the same apparent brightness, separated on the sky by 1.5 degrees. An ingenious and creative 10 second exposure from a swinging camera recorded these gyrating trails of the celestial pairing. Can you tell which trail belongs to the star and which to the planet?"
Apr 27, 2011
"In silhouette against a crowded star field toward the constellation Scorpius, this dusty cosmic cloud evokes for some the image of an ominous dark tower."
Apr 26, 2011
"A satellite galaxy of our own Milky Way, the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC) is an alluring sight in dark southern skies and the constellation Dorado."
Apr 25, 2011
"Known to some as the Elephant's Trunk Nebula, parts of the glowing gas and dust clouds of this star formation region may appear to take on foreboding forms, some nearly human."
Apr 25, 2011
"This nebula's dying central star may have produced the simple, outer pattern of dusty concentric shells by shrugging off outer layers in a series of regular convulsions."
Apr 23, 2011
"What is it? It's a multi-temporal illumination map, of course."
Apr 22, 2011
"Well over a thousand galaxies are known members of the Virgo Cluster, the closest large cluster of galaxies to our own local group."