central milky way

Milky Way and Exploding Meteor : Tonight the Perseid Meteor Shower reaches its maximum. Grains of icy rock will streak across the sky as they evaporate during entry into Earths atmosphere. These grains were shed from Comet Swift-Tuttle. The Perseids result from the annual crossing of the Earth through Comet Swift-Tuttles orbit, and are typically the most active meteor shower of the year. Although it is hard to predict the level of activity in any meteor shower, in a clear dark sky an observer might see a meteor a minute. This years Perseids occur just before a new Moon and so the relatively dark sky should make even faint meteors visible. Meteor showers in general are best be seen from a relaxing position, away from lights. Featured here is a meteor caught exploding two weeks ago above Austria next to the central band of our Milky Way Galaxy. via NASA


On this night, several glows were evident – some near, but some far. The foreground glimmers blue with the light of bioluminescent plankton. Next out, Earth’s atmosphere dims the horizon and provides a few opaque clouds. Farther out, the planet Venus glows bright near the image center. Farthest away, rising diagonally, is the central band of our Milky Way Galaxy. Most of the billions of Milky Way stars and dark clouds are thousands of light years away. 

The image was taken last November on the Iranian coast of Gulf of Oman.

Image Credit & Copyright: Taha Ghouchkanlu


This film was shot over 11 nights in March on La Palma, Canary Islands. La Palma is often called ‘Europes’ Hawaii’ as it has all the ingredients for a perfect night sky cocktail; altitude, dry air and a lack of light pollution. These elements when combined make for a stunning night sky. Because of it’s clean air and clear skies many of the worlds top observatories have facilities on top of the island.

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In parts of Antarctica, not only is it winter, but the Sun can spend weeks below the horizon.At China's Zhongshan Station, people sometimes venture out into the cold to photograph a spectacular night sky.The featured image from one such outing was taken in mid-July, just before the end of this polar night.Pointing up, the wide angle lens captured not only the ground at the bottom, but at the top as well. In the foreground is a colleague also taking pictures.In the distance, a spherical satellite receiver and several windmills are visible.Numerous stars dot the night sky, including Sirius and Canopus.Far in the background, stretching overhead from horizon to horizon, is the central band of our Milky Way Galaxy.Even further in the distance, visible as extended smudges near the top, are the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds, satellite galaxies near our huge Milky Way Galaxy.

Credit: NASA

Time And Space

Meteors and Milky Way over Mount Ranier : Despite appearances, the sky is not falling. Two weeks ago, however, tiny bits of comet dust were. Featured here is the Perseids meteor shower as captured over Mt. Rainier, Washington, USA. The image was created from a two-hour time lapse video, snaring over 20 meteors, including one that brightened dramatically on the image left. Although each meteor train typically lasts less than a second, the camera was able to capture their color progressions as they disintegrated in the Earths atmosphere. Here an initial green tint may be indicative of small amounts of glowing magnesium atoms that were knocked off the meteor by atoms in the Earths atmosphere. To cap things off, the central band of our Milky Way Galaxy was simultaneously photographed rising straight up behind the snow-covered peak of Mt. Rainier. Another good meteor shower is expected in mid-November when debris from a different comet intersects Earth as the Leonids. via NASA


Why would the sky glow red? An aurora! A solar storm in 2012, mostly coming from an active sunspot, showered particles on the Earth that excited oxygen atoms high in the Earth’s atmosphere. As the excited element’s electrons fell back to their ground state, they emitted a red glow. 

The sky that night, however, also glowed with more familiar but more distant objects, including the central disk of our Milky Way Galaxy on the left, and the neighboring Large and Small Magellanic Cloud galaxies on the right. 

Image Credit & Copyright: Alex Cherney (Terrastro, TWAN)

Here’s the labelled image for anyone who is interested:

Galaxies from the Altiplano : The central bulge of our Milky Way Galaxy rises over the northern Chilean Atacama altiplano in this postcard from planet Earth. At an altitude of 4500 meters, the strange beauty of the desolate landscape could almost belong to another world though. Brownish red and yellow tinted sulfuric patches lie along the whitish salt flat beaches of the Salar de Aguas Calientes region. In the distance along the Argentina border is the stratovolcano Lastarria, its peak at 5700 meters . In the clear, dark sky above, stars, nebulae, and cosmic dust clouds in the Milky Way echo the colors of the altiplano at night. Extending the view across extragalactic space, the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds, satellite galaxies of the Milky Way, shine near the horizon through a faint greenish airglow. via NASA


You wake up in the Kalahari Desert in Botswana, Africa. You go outside your tent, set up your camera, and take long exposures of the land and sky. What might you see? Besides a lot of blowing dust and the occasional acacia tree, you might catch many sky wonders. Pictured in 2015 September, sky highlights include the central band of our Milky Way Galaxy, the Pleiades Star Cluster, Barnard’s Loop, and both the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds, to name just a few. Although most of these faded in the morning light, they were quickly replaced by a partial eclipse of the Sun. 

 Image Credit & Copyright: Petr Horálek

Milky Way over Uluru : The central regions of our Milky Way Galaxy rise above Uluru/Ayers Rock in this striking night skyscape. Recorded on July 13, a faint airglow along the horizon shows off central Australias most recognizable landform in silhouette. Of course the Milky Ways own cosmic dust clouds appear in silhouette too, dark rifts along the galaxys faint congeries of stars. Above the central bulge, rivers of cosmic dust converge on a bright yellowish supergiant star Antares. Left of Antares, wandering Saturn shines in the night. via NASA


Saturn and Mars visit Milky Way Star Clouds : Planets, stars, nebulas and a galaxy this impressive image has them all. Closest to home are the two planets Mars , visible as the two bright orange spots in the upper half of the featured image. On the central right are the colorful Rho Ophiuchus star clouds featuring the bright orange star Antares lined up below Mars. These interstellar clouds contain both red emission nebulas and blue reflection nebulas. At the top right of the image is the Blue Horsehead reflection nebula. On the lower left are many dark absorption nebulas that extend from the central band of our Milky Way Galaxy. The featured deep composite was composed of multiple deep exposures taken last month from Brazil. Although you need a telescope to see the nebulosities, Saturn and Mars will remain visible to the unaided eye this month toward the east, just after sunset. via NASA


Milky Way Over the Spanish Peaks : Thats not lightning, and it did not strike between those mountains. The diagonal band is actually the central band of our Milky Way Galaxy, while the twin peaks are actually called the Spanish Peaks but located in Colorado, USA. Although each Spanish peak is composed of a slightly different type of rock, both are approximately 25 million years old. This serene yet spirited image composite was meticulously created by merging a series of images all taken from the same location on one night and early last month. In the first series of exposures, the background sky was built up, with great detail being revealed in the Milky Way dust lanes as well as the large colorful region surrounding the star Rho Ophiuchus just right of center. One sky image, though, was taken using a fogging filter so that brighter stars would appear more spread out and so more prominent. As a bonus, the planets Mars and Saturn are placed right above peaks and make an orange triangle with the bright star Antares. Later that night, after the moonrise, the Moon itself naturally illuminated the snow covered mountain tops. via NASA


(NASA)  Milky Way and Stone Tree
Image Credit & Copyright: Daniel López (El Cielo de Canarias)

What’s that next to the Milky Way? An unusual natural rock formation known as Roque Cinchado or Stone Tree found on the Spanish Canary Island of Tenerife. A famous icon, Roque Cinchado is likely a dense plug of cooled volcanic magma that remains after softer surrounding rock eroded away. Majestically, the central band of our Milky Way Galaxy is visible arcing across the right of the above seven image panoramic mosaic taken during the summer of 2010. On the far right is the Teide volcano complete with a lenticular cloud hovering near its peak.  

Sculpted by stellar winds and radiation, the star factory known as Messier 17 lies some 5,500 light-years away in the nebula-rich constellation Sagittarius. At that distance, this 1/3 degree wide field of view spans over 30 light-years. The sharp composite, color image, highlights faint details of the region’s gas and dust clouds against a backdrop of central Milky Way stars. Stellar winds and energetic light from hot, massive stars formed from M17 stock of cosmic gas and dust have slowly carved away at the remaining interstellar material producing the cavernous appearance and undulating shapes. M17 is also known as the Omega Nebula or the Swan Nebula.

Object Names: Omega Nebula/ Swan Nebula/ M17

Image Type: Astronomical

Credit: ESO/ MPIA/ OAC

Asembly:  R. Colombari

Time And Space

Observatory, Mountains, Universe : The awesomeness in this image comes in layers. The closest layer, in the foreground, contains the Peak Terskol Observatory located in the northern Caucasus Mountains of Russia. The white dome over the 2-meter telescope is clearly visible. The observatory is located on a shoulder of Mt. Elbrus, the highest mountain in Europe, with other peaks visible in a nearby background layer. Clouds are visible both in front of and behind the mountain peaks. The featured three-image composite panorama was taken in 2014 August. Far in the distance is the most distant layer: the stars and nebulas of the night sky, with the central band of the Milky Way rising on the image right. via NASA


I’m not sure I’ve seen an observatory shot more epic than this. This is an incredible composite image by Boris Dmitriev of Peak Terskol Observatory in Russia. The observatory is located on a shoulder of Mt. Elbrus, the highest mountain in Europe. In the background you can see the central band of the Milky Way emerging through the clouds.