- The Andromeda Galaxy
- The Summer Triangle
- The star Altair (αAql) - astrometry.net
- The star Polaris (αUMi) - astrometry.net
- The star Caph (βCas) - astrometry.net
- The star Eltanin (γDra) - astrometry.net
- The star Sadr (γCyg) - astrometry.net
- The star Gienah (εCyg) - astrometry.net
- The star Alderamin (αCep) - astrometry.net
- The star Tarazed (γAql) - astrometry.net
- IC 1318 / gamma Cyg nebula - astrometry.net
- IC 5068 - astrometry.net
- NGC 6960 / Filamentary nebula / Lace-work nebula / Veil nebula - astrometry.net
- IC 5070 / Pelican nebula - astrometry.net
- NGC 7000 / North America nebula - astrometry.net
- IC 1396 - astrometry.net
The Backbone of the Night
It's hard to beat the view of the summer Milky Way under a clear dark sky. If you've never seen it, make plans to get away from the city to check it out, you won't regret it! The view of the noctilucent clouds was awesome but I think the most beautiful thing that I saw out at the remote observing site was a perfectly dark sky with the Milky Way blazing bright overhead.
The Milky Way (our home galaxy) makes a line across the sky because it's overall shape is a giant disk (100,000 light-years across) thick with stars. Our sun, and therefore our solar system and earth, are embedded in that disk of stars and so when we look out, along the disk, we see a dense band of stars. Our view is partially obstructed by intervening dust which gives the Milky Way it's 'chunky' look.
In this view we see the center of our galaxy just above the horizon. It takes on a yellowish hue because the core of our galaxy (and vicinity) is mostly occupied with older and cooler stars. As you move up, the star clouds take on cooler tones. Here we're looking across the spiral arms of our galaxy. The arms of spiral galaxies are normally home to intense star formation and thus include many young, hot, stars. See my shot of M51 to see an example of this coloring in a distant spiral galaxy. (The radiation from stars, and thus their color, can be roughly modeled as a blackbody. As an object heats up it starts to glow. First red, like an oven, but eventually getting 'white' hot as its peak radiation wavelength moves towards the blue end of the electromagnetic spectrum.)
Anyway, where was I before I started geeking out? Oh yeah, so this panorama covers a large portion of our own galaxy, the Milky Way, but it also includes the Andromeda galaxy, the nearest spiral galaxy to our own. It's located near the upper-left corner in this shot. The Andromeda galaxy is almost edge on from our point-of-view and is located about 2.5 million light-years away. (Think about that for a moment, the light falling on the sensor in the camera has been traveling through the universe, at the speed of light, for 2.5 million years...) The Andromeda galaxy is easily seen with the unaided eye under dark skies, get a star chart and try it sometime!
This image was created with 4 shots using my 11 mm (f/3.5) wide-angle lens. Each shot was 3 minutes long at ISO 1600. The camera was placed on my telescope mount (CGEM) so that the stars would not trail in the images. The field-of-view starts at the South horizon and goes up through the zenith and almost all the way to the North horizon.