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.
2000 June 18
Explanation: This breathtaking patch of sky would be above you were you to stand at the South Pole of the Earth. Just above and to the right of this photograph's center are the four stars that mark the boundaries of the famous Southern Cross. At the top of this constellation, also known as The Crux, is the orange star Gamma Crucis. The band of stars, dust, and gas crossing the middle of the photograph is part our Milky Way Galaxy. In the very center of the photograph is the dark Coal Sack Nebula, and the bright nebula on the far right is the Carina Nebula. The Southern Cross is such a famous constellation that it is depicted on the national flag of Australia.
Authors & editors:
Jerry Bonnell (USRA)
NASA Technical Rep.: Jay Norris. Specific rights apply.
A service of: LHEA at NASA/GSFC
& Michigan Tech. U.