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Last updated on April 25, 2014 at 5:51 EDT

Stellar Bodies

Eta Carinae -- Eta Carinae is a very large (100-150 times as much mass as the Sun) and bright (about 4 million times as bright) star, in the constellation Carina (right ascension 10 h 45.1 m, declination -5941m). The star is surrounded by a large, brig...

Hoag's Object -- Hoag's object is a galaxy of the type known as a ring galaxy. A nearly perfect ring of young hot blue stars circle the older yellow nucleus of this ring galaxy 600 million light-years away in the constellation Serpens. The gala...

Horsehead Nebula -- The Horsehead Nebula, a part of the optical nebula IC434 and also known as Barnard 33, was first recorded in 1888 on a photographic plate taken at the Harvard College Observatory. Its coincidental appearance as the profile of a ...

Hourglass Nebula -- This is an image of MyCn18, a young planetary nebula located about 8,000 light-years away, taken with the Wide Field and Planetary Camera 2 (WFPC2) aboard NASA's Hubble Space Telescope (HST). This Hubble image reveals the true s...

Hubble's Variable Nebula -- Hubble's variable nebula is named (like the Hubble telescope itself) after the American astronomer Edwin P. Hubble, who carried out some of the early studies of this object. It is a fan-shaped cloud of gas and dust which...

The Hyades -- The Hyades are an open star cluster located in the constellation Taurus. The closest star cluster to Earth, it is centered some 151 light years away. The brightest star in this direction is Aldebaran, but it is not a member of the clu...

Lagoon Nebula -- The Lagoon Nebula was discovered by Le Gentil in 1747. As often for diffuse nebulae, the cluster of young stars which has formed from the nebula's material was discovered first. In this case the young open cluster NGC 6530 in t...

Martian Meteorite -- Mars meteorites include three rare groups of achondritic (stony) meteorites (16 objects total) with isotope ratios that are said to be consistent with each other and inconsistent with the earth. It should be pointed out, howeve...

Messier Object -- During the years from 1758 to 1782 Charles Messier, a French astronomer (1730 - 1817), compiled a list of approximately 100 diffuse objects that were difficult to distinguish from comets through the telescopes of the day. Discover...

Near-Earth Asteroid -- Near-Earth asteroids (NEAs) are asteroids whose orbit intersects Earth's orbit and which may therefore pose a collision danger, as well as being most easily accessible for spacecraft from Earth. In fact, some near-Earth aster...

Near-Earth Object -- Near-Earth Objects (NEO) are asteroids, comets and large meteoroids whose orbit intersects Earth's orbit and which may therefore pose a collision danger. Due to their size and proximity, NEO's are also more easily accessible fo...

Omega Centauri -- Discovered by Edmond Halley in 1677. About 10 million stars orbit the center of this globular cluster - named Omega Centauri - as this giant globular cluster orbits our Galactic center. Recent evidence indicates that Omega Cen...

Orion Nebula -- Discovered 1610 by Nicholas-Claude Fabri de Peiresc. Located at a distance of about 1,600 (or perhaps 1,500) light years, the Orion Nebula is the brightest diffuse nebula in the sky, visible to the naked eye, and rewarding in telesc...

Owl Nebula -- Dicovered by Pierre Mchain in 1781. The Owl Nebula M97 is one of the fainter objects in Messier's catalog, discovered by Pierre Mchain on February 16, 1781. In his description of this object, Charles Messier also mentions two othe...

Pinwheel Galaxy -- Discovered by Pierre Mchain in 1781. M101 was discovered by Pierre Mchain on March 27, 1781, and added as one of the last entries in Charles Messier's catalog. It was the first "spiral nebula" identified as such by William Pa...

Pleiades -- in astronomy, in astronomy, famous open star cluster in the constellation Taurus; cataloged as M45. The cluster consists of some 500 stars, has a diameter of 35 light-years, and is 400 light- years distant from the earth. Six stars ...

Polaris -- Polaris, Alpha Ursae Minoris, is the bright star closest to the north celestial pole. It is also known as the North Star, the Lode Star, or the Pole star. Because it lies nearly in a direct line with the axis of the Earth's rotation "abo...

Procyon -- Procyon (α Canis Minoris) is a brilliant star that receives its name from the fact that it precedes the star Sirius as it travels across the Earth's sky. These two "dog stars" are referred to in the most ancient literature and were ve...

Proxima Centauri -- The red dwarf star Proxima Centauri (also Alpha Centauri C), part of the Alpha Centauri star system, is the nearest star to our Earth other than the Sun. Proxima Centauri is roughly 4.22 light years from Earth, 270,000 times as ...

Ptolemy Cluster -- Known to Ptolemy 130 AD. "M7 is a large and brilliant group, easily detected with the naked eye... the cluster is seen projected on a background of numerous faint and distant Milky Way stars." (Burnham). This splendid cluster...