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A 3-D Tour of Our Galaxy


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Arcturus lies at a distance of about 36 light years. It is the brightest star of the northern hemisphere and the fourth brightest star in the entire sky. In Greek, Arcturus means "Guardian of the Bear", a name given to this star because of its proximity to the Ursa Major (Great Bear) constellation. Arcturus belongs to the Bootes constellation, which forms a kite-shaped pattern in the sky.

The easiest way to find Arcturus is to start with the Big Dipper (the Plough). Follow the handle of the Big Dipper as it arcs and keep going until you come to a bright star. That's Arcturus. "Follow the arc to Arcturus", as the old stargazer's saying goes.

How to view the 3-D image:
The pair of images above represents a star field of about 6 by 6 degrees. To see the cluster in three dimensions use the following "fused, free-eye imaging" method. View the screen from a distance of about 30-50 cm. Focus on the images, but relax the eyes so that they converge at infinity (imagine that you are staring through the screen at a distant point, so that the left eye observes and focuses on the left image, while the right eye focuses on the right image). Fix on a particular object until the depth effect appears: when it does, the results are dramatic.


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