A)This is the Orion Nebula, or M42. It’s visible by the naked eye, but the picture was taken with infrared to penetrate dust in the way by the Spitzer Space Telescope. The nebula is about 1500 light years away, and is a nursery for young stars. Although visible by the naked eye, it was not classified as a nebula until 1610.
B)This is a picture of the Large Magellanic Cloud galaxy, taken by the Spitzer Space Telescope. The picture is mostly of gas clouds and dust, which prefers to gather around young stars (pictured as clouds with a red glow). The picture is actually a mosaic, taken with infrared light, and is 1,000 times sharper than any previous pictures taken of the Large Magellanic Cloud galaxy. This galaxy is also a satellite to our own.
C)This is a picture of Comet McNaught’s tail. It is visible in the southern hemisphere after sunset. This picture was taken by the comet’s discoverer, Robert H. McNaught, from Siding Spring Observatory in Australia. Comet McNaught is the brighest comet in decades.
D)This is an infrared picture of the center of our galaxy. The stars are moving relatively quickly, which is evidence that there is a large gravitational force at the center of the galaxy. This is interpreted as a massive black hole, with a mass 1 million times that of our sun with a diamater of a fifth of a lightyear.
E)The big dipper, pictured here, is an asterism of Ursa Major. By connecting the two stars at the end of the dipper, you can find Polaris. Five of the stars in the asterism are relatively close to each other. Apparent configuration of these stars changes over time due to relative stellar motion.
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