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.

May 15, 1996

The Milky Way Near the Northern Cross
Credit and Copyright: Andy Steere

Explanation: This beautiful image of the sky near the bright star Deneb (just above centre) reveals the stars, nebulae, and dark clouds along the plane of our Milky Way Galaxy as seen from the northern hemisphere (near Columbia Missouri, USA). Just below Deneb lies the suggestively shaped North American emission nebula. Deneb is the brightest star in the constellation Cygnus, located in the tail of this celestial swan. Cygnus contains the asterism known as the Northern Cross and marks one side of the "Great Rift" in the Milky Way, a series of dark obscuring dust clouds which stretches on through the constellation Sagittarius. Deneb defines the top of the Northern Cross while the body of the cross extends past the upper right corner of the picture. Cygnus also harbors the most famous candidate for a black hole in our galaxy, Cygnus X-1.

Tomorrow's picture: Comet Hyakutake Passes the Sun


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Authors & editors: Robert Nemiroff (MTU) & Jerry Bonnell (USRA)
NASA Technical Rep.: Jay Norris. Specific rights apply.
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&: Michigan Tech. U.