Pan-STARRS Sky Survey
This image is a mosaic of sky photographs taken by the Pan-STARRS Observatory, a 1.8-meter telescope located at the summit of Haleakalā, on Maui. The center of the circle is the north celestial pole, and the outer edge is a sky declination of -30 degrees, which is where the Pan-STARRS survey stopped (because it reached the southern horizon as seen in Hawai'i).
The bright band extending from top to bottom is our Milky Way galaxy. The center of the galaxy is near the bottom edge of the image where the galaxy is brightest.
In total, Pan-STARRS catalogued more than 800 million objects within this image. The image includes both stars and galaxies, although most of what is visible are objects in the Milky Way.
In the plane of the Milky Way, dark filaments and clouds show cosmic dust, which absorbs blue light and makes the objects appear much redder. The Pan-STARRS data have been used to produce the best map of our galaxy's dust by analyzing the colors and brightnesses of these stars.
R. White (STScI) and the PS1 Science Consortium