More amazing astrophotos!

If you don’t already check the Astronomy Picture of the Day each day, you should. Today was a special treat, linking to the Gigagalaxy Zoom project. That web site uses as its dataset three images at tens-of-thousands-by-tens-of-thousands resolution, and you can zoom in on features of each image through a nice Flash interface that includes descriptions of the cosmic bodies you see. The three images are composites of thousands of exposures, and represent three levels of telescopic magnification towards the center of the Milky Way Galaxy.

My favorite zoomed-in segment is the Pipe Nebula in the middle-level image:

Center of the Milky Way
Center of the Milky Way

You can see the zoomed segment with its description by clicking here and then clicking on the short, wide rectangle that highlights a dark squiggly nebula in the center of the image. Just look at the number of stars behind the dark nebula! This is the kind of image that makes me feel that I’m very tiny, that the beauty I see in the natural world on Earth is an insignificant fraction of the wonders in the Universe. And it makes me want to get out there and see things!

Best of all, you can download ~26 MB high-res versions of the three base images from the Gigagalaxy download page.

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