The Large Sagittarius Star Cloud

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.

This is a cropped closeup of the brightest part of the Milky Way. This is part of the galactic hub, the inner region where stars are more tightly packed than they are in these outer regions, and much older as well. These stars are so dense and distant that even a large amateur telescope is unable to resolve them all. Much of the fantastic intricacy of the dust lanes riddling this area is visible through a good telescope. Numerous foreground clusters and nebulae dot the region. Here we are looking through an immense corridor of stars.

I shot this with my 85mm f/2 lens stopped down to f/4. The individual exposures were 2 minutes at ISO 1600.

Image copyright by Joe Bergeron.