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.

February 13, 1996

7,000 Stars And The Milky Way
Credit: Knut Lundmark, Copyright Lund Observatory, Used with permission.

Explanation: This panorama view of the sky is really a drawing. It was made in the 1940s under the supervision of astronomer Knut Lundmark at the Lund Observatory in Sweden. To create the picture, draftsmen used a mathematical distortion to map the entire sky onto an oval shaped image with the plane of our Milky Way Galaxy along the center and the north galactic pole at the top. 7,000 individual stars are shown as white dots, size indicating brightness. The "Milky Way" clouds, actually the combined light of dim, unresolved stars in the densely populated galactic plane, are accurately painted on, interrupted by dramatic dark dust lanes. The overall effect is photographic in quality and represents the visible sky. Can you identify any familiar landmarks or constellations? For starters, Orion is at the right edge of the picture, just below the galactic plane and the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds are visible as fuzzy patches in the lower right quadrant.

Tomorrow's picture: NGC 2237: The Rosette Nebula

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