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A Lesson in Astronomy Mumbo Jumbo

4 January 2012

Astronomy involves a lot of technical gobbledygook, right? There are lots of strange words, such as galaxy and nebula. Well, we’re going to let you into a secret: most of them are just translations from ancient languages for everyday words. For example, the word ‘galaxy’ comes from the Greek word for ‘milky white. And ‘nebula’ is a Latin word for ‘cloud’.

As you might expect, all of these words describe the space objects that they’re connected to. For example, our Galaxy looks like a band of milky white light in the night sky. (This is also why we call our Galaxy the Milky Way.). And a nebula is a cloud of gas and dust in space.

The picture shown above is a new photo of a well-known nebula called the Omega Nebula. This nebula is found in the night sky in the constellation called Sagittarius. The photo was taken with a telescope called the Very Large Telescope, which is found in the country Chile in South America. It is one of the sharpest pictures of this nebula ever taken using a telescope on Earth!

Cool Fact: When you’re talking about more than one nebula, you call them ‘nebulae’ (you say it like neb-u-lee). It’s a common mistake for people to say ‘nebulas’, so don’t get caught out!

This is a kids version of ESO Press Release eso1201.