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.

2008 October 31
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A Witch by Starlight
Credit & Copyright: Star Shadows Remote Observatory
(Steve Mazlin, Jack Harvey, Rick Gilbert, Teri Smoot, Daniel Verschatse)

Explanation: By starlight this eerie visage shines in the dark, a crooked profile evoking its popular name, the Witch Head Nebula. In fact, this entrancing telescopic portrait gives the impression the witch has fixed her gaze on Orion's bright supergiant star Rigel. Spanning over 50 light-years, the dusty cosmic cloud strongly reflects nearby Rigel's blue light, giving it the characteristic colour of a reflection nebula. Catalogued as IC 2118, the Witch Head Nebula is about 1,000 light-years away. Of course, you might see a witch this scary tonight, but don't panic. Have a safe and Happy Halloween!

Take a survey on Aesthetics and Astronomy.

Tomorrow's picture: veiled spectre

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