Behold: the painterly tableau of the constellation Cygnus (the Swan) picked out at the northern end of the Great Rift in swirling strokes of interstellar dust and glowing hydrogen gas. To wit:

Composed with three different telescopes and about 90 hours of image data the widefield mosaic spans an impressive 24 degrees across the sky. Alpha star of Cygnus, bright, hot, supergiant Deneb lies near top centre. Crowded with stars and luminous gas clouds Cygnus is also home to the dark, obscuring Northern Coal Sack Nebula, extending from Deneb toward the centre of the view. The reddish glow of star forming regions NGC 7000, the North America Nebula and IC 5070, the Pelican Nebula, are just left of Deneb. The Veil Nebula is a standout below and left of centre. A supernova remnant, the Veil is some 1,400 light years away, but many other nebulae and star clusters are identifiable throughout the cosmic scene. Of course, Deneb itself is also known to northern hemisphere skygazers for its place in two asterisms — marking the top of the Northern Cross and a vertex of the Summer Triangle.

(Image: Alistair Symon)

apod