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The Helix is Looking at You



This is not the first picture you've seen of the Helix Nebula, but it's the best image so far. The Helix Nebula is a cloud of gas that was left when a star expired 700 light years away from us.
This image is in the near-infrared, taken using the European Southern Observatory’s Visible and Infrared Survey Telescope for Astronomy (VISTA), a 4.1 meter telescope in Chile. Equipped with a whopping 67 megapixel camera it can take pictures of large areas of the sky. The Helix nebula fits that bill: it’s close enough to us that it’s nearly the size of the full Moon in the sky.

You are right, this would make an awesome desktop wallpaper! You can download the huge version if you like, and get more details about the Eye of Sauron Helix Nebula at Bad Astronomy. Link

(Image credit: ESO/VISTA/J. Emerson/Cambridge Astronomical Survey Unit)

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