The Galactic Core

One of the most profound things any human being can see is our own Milky Way Galaxy. For the best view you need to be hundreds of miles from any large city, and preferably tens of miles from any small town. Such places are increasingly hard to find, especially in advanced nations like the USA where "progress" includes lighting up the sky and blotting out our view of the grand reality beyond.

Capitol Reef National Park in Utah is one such sanctuary of the night sky. During my recent assignment as a Night Sky Volunteer in that park I took advantage of those pristine skies to do some wide-field astrophotography.

Here we  look toward Sagittarius and the core of out galaxy. The core itself is invisible from our vantage point, obscured by intricate masses of opaque dust which inhabit the galactic plane. We can see the outlying parts of the galaxy's central hub, a spangled glow composed of billions of massed stars some 25,000 light years away.

Minutely visible in this image are dozens of deep-sky objects that are favorite targets of amateur astronomers. I shot this with an 85mm f/2 lens stopped down to f/4. The individual exposures were 2 minutes long at ISO 1600.

Image copyright by Joe Bergeron.