Drifting through the Orion Arm of the spiral Milky Way Galaxy,
this cosmic cloud
by chance echoes the
outline of California on the west coast of the United States.
Our own Sun also lies within the Milky Way's
Arm, only about 1,500 light-years from the California Nebula.
Also known as NGC 1499, the classic emission nebula
is around 100 light-years long.
It glows with the red light characteristic of hydrogen atoms
lost electrons, stripped away (ionized)
by energetic starlight.
In this case, the star most likely providing the energetic
starlight is the bright, hot, bluish Xi Persei,
just right of the nebula and above picture center.
composite picture was made with images from a telescope
in California - the 48-inch (1.2-meter)
Oschin Telescope - taken as a part of the
second National Geographic