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 December 8
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The Dark Doodad Nebula
Credit & Copyright: Andrey Oreshko

Explanation: What is that strange dark ribbon on the sky? When observing the great globular cluster NGC 4372, observers frequently take note of a strange dark streak nearly three degrees in length running near it. Unnamed, the streak, actually a long molecular cloud, has become known as the Dark Doodad Nebula. (Doodad is slang for a thingy or a whatchamacallit.) Pictured above in a rich and colourful star-field, the Dark Doodad Nebula can be found sweeping across the image centre. The globular star cluster NGC 4372 is visible on the image left, while the bright star gamma Musca is seen to the cluster's right. The Dark Doodad Nebula can be found with strong binoculars toward the southern constellation of the Fly (Musca). The above image was compiled by consecutive 45 minutes exposures taken by a small telescope from the La Frontera region in Chile.

Tomorrow's picture: car emblem

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