It had been two years since I’d had a good look at the summer Milky Way. At my latitude, it doesn’t get dark enough for visual stargazing from late May to late July, and clouds, smoke, moonlight, and the vicissitudes of life disposed of the remaining late summer nights. But this week delivered what I’ve long awaited – a promising forecast of two nights with a crystal-clear atmosphere and no moon. The excuses were over – it was time to drive an hour west of town to my favorite dark-sky site with a telescope, a bag of eyepieces, and a star map in the back seat. If I was going to see the Milky Way before winter comes, it was now or never.
The outer rim of the Milky Way as seen in late summer towards the constellations Cassiopeia and Perseus.
“Peer at things up close and you may learn their true form
but guessed at from afar, they seem like something else.
Vastness such as this is beyond comprehension:
all I can do is sigh in endless wonder”. – Su Tung-P’o (1060 A.D.)
An abandoned sailboat in a grassy field in northern Virginia makes for a good, if unexpected, foreground for this image of the summer Milky Way. Mars is at lower left, while Saturn is below center, and just below the airplane trail. The silvery rectangle of stars above the plane trail is the Small Sagittarius Star Cloud (Messier 24). Many pink nebulae and silver-gray star clusters fleck the trail of the Milky Way. Look to the upper left of the image to see the little upside-down ‘Coat Hanger’ asterism known as Collinder 399.
Image taken on July 8, 2018 near Warrenton, VA, with a Nikon D750 and Tamron 15-30mm lens at f/2.8, a NiSi natural night filter, ISO 3200, 20 seconds.Share This:
Like the drift of the continents or the erosion of great mountain ranges on Earth, the motion of the stars across the sky is almost imperceptibly small over the paltry span of a human lifetime. But in this quite astonishing video made with data from the European Space Agency’s (ESA’s) Gaia spacecraft, which compresses 5 million years of star motion into a few minutes, you can see more than 2 million stars move across the sky like grains of pollen floating in a breeze. It is mesmerizing (and unexpectedly calming) [Read more…] about Moving StarsShare This:
If only capturing all nightscape images was this easy! In the international dark-sky community of Sedona, Arizona, where artificial lighting is strictly controlled, you can simply pull over by the side of the road on the outskirts of town on a clear night, set up your camera on a tripod, and release the shutter. Chances are you’ll capture something good.
This image of the winter stars over the red sandstone formation known as Cathedral Rock, taken in mid-February, required only slightly more planning. After a day hike up to a saddle point in this conglomeration of red sandstone, I noted the orientation of this famous landmark relative to the sky as seen from trailhead, waited for a clear night, and snapped away. Here you see the stream of the winter Milky Way at the upper left, and the winter constellations from Canis Major at lower left, through Monoceros and Orion at center, to Taurus at the upper right [Read more…] about The Winter Milky Way Over Cathedral RockShare This: