The Milky Way

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 see an expanded, wide-field view of the Milky Way. The brightest parts are centered in Sagittarius, with the fainter Galactic Hub extending far into neighboring Scorpius. To the north and east the spiral arms of our galaxy can be seen extending into Aquila and Ophiuchus. The stars of the galaxy's core are generally older than those of the spiral arms, and redder in color. Vast reaches of opaque dust dim our view and inscribe the band of stars into many strange shapes.

I shot this with a fisheye lens on my Canon DSLR, several stacked exposures of around 2 minutes each.

Image copyright by Joe Bergeron.