Monday, October 22, 2007


From the Atronomy Picture of the Day:
Inspired during a visit to Fort Davis, Texas, home of McDonald Observatory and dark night skies, photographer Larry Landolfi created this tantalizing fantasy view. The composited image suggests the Milky Way is a heavenly extension of a deserted country road. Of course, the name for our galaxy, the Milky Way (in Latin, Via Lactea), does refer to its appearance as a milky band or path in the sky. In fact, the word galaxy itself derives from the Greek for milk. Visible on moonless nights from dark sky areas, though not so colorful as in this image, the glowing celestial band is due to the collective light of myriad stars along the plane of our galaxy, too faint to be distinguished individually. The diffuse starlight is cut by dark swaths of obscuring galactic dust clouds. At the beginning of the 17th century, Galileo turned his telescope on the Milky Way and announced it to be composed of innumerable stars.
Hat tip to Plum P.


Poopyman said...

Composite image, eh? It's a very good one, since the scale and placement are right on. Altair's the bright star at the top of the pic, and you can see the "teapot" of Sagitarius just to the left of the brightest part (and indeed the center) of the Milky Way. Scorpius has just set behind the hill on the right, and I think that's Jupiter on the hill. This is the view you'd have tonight around 9PM - if you're sky is specacularly dark.

My friends and I always try and see how far west (to the right) we can see the Milky Way, and always argue about how far it extends. In fact, you can see that it goes beyond the bounds of this composite.

Anonymous said...

If only the backyard were that dark! Your sky would have to be pristinely dark and your eyes exceptional to see something like that. Its a little easier to accomplish with a digital camera. I love these wide field milky way shots.
Backyard Astronomer

four legs good said...

Yeppers, it's a good one, though I must say that when I was growing up, there were times when I saw the milky way so bright in the sky that I did think I could run to the end of the block and keep going into the star field.

If only....

Polly said...

Tails O' Doom in Space!

Maddie's Tail O' Doom reaches down from space to touch Ripley's Tail O' Doomlet yearning up to the heavens.

Wow! The gurlz have a friend in Larry Landolfi.

Anonymous said...

I was camping in a fairly dark location in SW Colorado about 10 years ago. As it got dark I thought I was seeing clouds in the sky. It didn't take me too long to realize that the "clouds" I was seeing were the Milky Way and the actual clouds were black and only detectable by an absence of stars. I had forgotten that clouds only light up in light polluted skies.

Backyard Astronomer