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The California Nebula (also known as NGC 1499) is an emission nebula consisting largely of ionized hydrogen gas. It was named for its resemblance to the state of California - home to the Palomar Observatory. The nebula is located approximately 1,000 light years from our solar system in the direction of the constellation of Perseus. 

The bright blue star Xi Persei (to the right of the nebula) most likely is the source of illumination for the nebula.

This image is a composite from two black and white images taken with the Palomar Observatory's 48-inch (1.2-meter) Samuel Oschin Telescope as a part of the Second Palomar Observatory Sky Survey ( POSS II). The images were recorded on two glass photographic plates - one sensitive to red light and the other to blue. The plates were scanned and color combined to produce the image seen here.

This image was choosen as Astronomy Picture of the Day for September 24, 2006 and March 10, 2005.

The Samuel Oschin Telescope was used to generate the Second Palomar Observatory Sky Survey POSS II and the Digital Palomar Observatory Sky Survey DPOSS. Plates for the POSS II survey were donated by the Eastman Kodak Corporation.

The POSS II survey was enabled by grants from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, the National Geographic Society, and the National Science Foundation. Partial funding for the DPOSS survey was provided by the Norris Foundation.
Plates were scanned at the Space Telescope Science Institute, and the results catalogued at Caltech.
URL for POSS II: http://www.astro.caltech.edu/~wws/poss2.html
URL for DPOSS: http://www.astro.caltech.edu/~george/dposs/

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