Big, beautiful spiral galaxy NGC 7331 is often touted as an analog to our own Milky Way. About 50 million light-years distant in the northern constellation Pegasus, NGC 7331 was recognized early on as a spiral nebula and is actually one of the brighter galaxies not included in Charles Messier's famous 18th century catalog. Since the galaxy's disk is inclined to our line-of-sight, long telescopic exposures often result in an image that evokes a strong sense of depth. The effect is further enhanced in this sharp image from a small telescope by galaxies that lie beyond the gorgeous island universe.
Hot, young stars and cosmic pillars of gas and dust seem to crowd into NGC 7822. At the edge of a giant molecular cloud toward the northern constellation Cepheus, this glowing star forming region lies about 3,000 light-years away. Within the nebula, bright edges and complex dust sculptures dominate this detailed skyscape taken in infrared light by NASA's Wide Field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) satellite.
The morning sky will play host to a spectacular gathering of solar system objects grouped closely together tomorrow (Nov. 22), but it won't be easy for observers on Earth to see it.
The sun, moon, three planets and the dwarf planet Ceres will all appear within a 20-degree span of sky. (For reference, your clenched fist held up to the sky measures about 10 degrees across.) Mercury and Saturn will be just west of the sun and new moon, while Venus and Ceres will be to the east. Unfortunately, the bright sun will wash out the beautiful "conjunction," but interested observers can still use a planetarium software program like Starry Night to check out the stunning event.