Astronomy Picture of the Day

Halloween and the Ghost Head Nebula

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Halloween and the Ghost Head Nebula

Halloween's origin is ancient and astronomical.

Since the fifth century BC,
has been celebrated as a
cross-quarter day, a day halfway between an
equinox (equal day / equal night) and a
(minimum day / maximum night in the northern hemisphere).

With our
modern calendar, however, the real
cross-quarter day will occur next week.

Another cross-quarter day is
Groundhog's Day.

Halloween's modern celebration retains
historic roots
in dressing to scare away the spirits of the dead.

Perhaps a fitting modern tribute to this ancient holiday is the
above-pictured Ghost Head Nebula taken with the
Hubble Space Telescope.

Appearing similar to the icon of a
NGC 2080 is actually a
star forming region in the
Large Magellanic Cloud,
a satellite galaxy of our own
Milky Way Galaxy.

The Ghost Head Nebula spans about 50
light-years and is shown in representative colors.

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