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Stellar Bodies

Milky Way Galaxy -- The Milky Way (a translation of the Latin Via Lactea, in turn derived from the Greek Galaxia (gala, galactos means "milk")) is a hazy band of white light across the night sky formed by billions of stars in the disc of our galaxy. ...

Alpha Centauri -- Alpha Centauri is the brightest star system in the southern constellation of Centaurus, and is the third brightest in the entire night sky (although too far south to be visible in most of the northern hemisphere). It is also the c...

Andromeda Galaxy -- The Andromeda Galaxy, also known as M31, or the object 31 on the catalog of Messier, is the other giant spiral galaxy in the Local Group, together with our galaxy, the Milky Way. It is at a distance of approximately 2.36 million...

Boomerang Nebula -- The Boomerang nebula, also called the bowtie nebula since the Hubble space telescope revealed more detail, located 5,000 light-years from Earth,in the constellation Centaurus. The Boomerang Nebula is one of the Universe's peculia...

Brown Dwarf -- Brown dwarfs are a special type of low-mass star (approximately 13-70 Jupiter masses) that do not have nuclear fusion occurring in their cores during their time on the main sequence. Early in their development most brown dwarf stars ...

Butterfly Cluster -- To some, the outline of the open cluster of stars M6 resembles a butterfly. M6, also known as NGC 6405, spans about 20 light-years and lies about 2,000 light years distant. M6 can best be seen in a dark sky with binoculars towa...

Cancer Constellation -- The constellation Cancer, the crab, is known in astronomy and astrology as one of the twelve constellations of the zodiac. Cancer is small and dim, and does not resemble a crab. It lies between Gemini to the west and Leo to ...

Cartwheel Galaxy -- Located 500 million light-years away in the constellation Sculptor, the Cartwheel Galaxy looks like a wagon wheel. The galaxy's nucleus is the bright object in the center of the image; the spoke-like structures are wisps of material...

Circinus Galaxy -- Resembling a swirling witch's cauldron of glowing vapors, the black hole-powered core of a nearby active galaxy appears in this colorful NASA Hubble Space Telescope image. The galaxy lies 13 million light-years away in the southern c...

Comet Encke -- Because of its proximity to the Sun and its stable orbit, comet Encke is probably one of the most evolved comets that still remains active. It may represent a transition object between an active comet and the defunct comets that are thou...

Halley's Comet -- Comet Halley, more generally known as Halley's Comet after Edmond Halley, is the best-known and the brightest of the "short-period" comets from the Kuiper belt that visit the inner solar system in years or decades-long orbits rather t...

Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 -- Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 is so-named because it was the ninth short-period comet discovered by Carolyn and Eugene Shoemaker and David Levy. It was first detected in a photograph taken on the night of March 24, 1993 with the ...

Comet Tempel-Tuttle -- Comet Tempel-Tuttle is an inherently faint and typically unspectacular comet that has only been observed on a few apparitions over the past 600 years. Its most recent apparition was in 1998, when it reached perihelion on Febr...

Cone Nebula -- The Cone Nebula is a famous nebula in the Orion Arm surrounding the NGC 2264 star cluster. The 'cone' is a triangular dark nebula near the bottom of the nebula. The bright star at the centre of this picture is 15 Monocerotis (or 'S M...

Crab Nebula -- The Crab Nebula (Messier 1, NGC 1952) is the object the which started Charles Messier logging non-cometary objects on his Messier Catalog. It is the expanding cloud of gas thrown off in the explosion that gave rise to the 1054 superno...

Cygnus X-1 -- Cygnus X-1 (often abbreviated to Cyg X-1) is an X-ray source in the Cygnus constellation considered to be one of the most likely black hole candidates. The optical counterpart (HDE 226868) is a variable 8.9 magnitude star (visible wit...

Dactyl Asteroid -- Dactyl, discovered in 1993, is a tiny asteroid (diameter 1.4 km) that orbits asteroid 243 Ida. The origins of Dactyl are unclear. The two main theories are that it and Ida formed at the same time, and that it was knocked loos...

Dumbbell Nebula -- Discovered by Charles Messier in 1764. The Dumbbell Nebula M27 was the first planetary nebula ever discovered. On July 12, 1764, Charles Messier discovered this new and fascinating class of objects, and describes this one as ...

Epsilon Eridani -- Epsilon Eridani is a main-sequence star in the constellation of Eridanus (the river). It is often used in science fiction because it is extremely sunlike, and in the fictional Star Trek universe it is the home sun of the planet Vulca...

433 Eros -- The asteroid 433 Eros was named after the Greek god of love Eros. It is an S-type asteroid approximately 13 x 13 x 33 km in size, the second-largest near-Earth asteroid. It was visited by the NEAR Shoemaker probe, which first orbited it...