Milky Way
Milky Way, Crescent Lake, Olympic Peninsula, Washington, USA

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Milky Way: Planet earth is located within the Milky Way galaxy, a fairly large galaxy (as galaxies go) at over 100,000 light years across.

From a very dark site, the structure shown in this photo is very apparent to the naked eye; unfortunately, there are few dark sites left near any populations. We went out, looking for a good place from which to shoot the Milky Way, during the September 2023 new moon. Having located a promising site, we waited for darkness. There was some wildfire smoke in the air, but the Milky Way was very evident to the naked eye, so I started taking photos. It doesn't get fully dark until well over an hour after it seems to be dark, and the exposures were just getting better and better. Finally, with the Milky Way fully vertical, it was dark, and this is what I got. The lake is Crescent Lake, on the Olympic Peninsula in Washington State, USA. The lights on the other side of the lake are cars on US highway 101, and houses along the edge of the lake.

The mix of dark brown, light brown and very light areas within the Milky Way reflects the fact that earth is within the disc of the galaxy, so we are, essentailly, looking at the galaxy edge on. Click here to see a view from earth of a fairly similar galaxy to ours, showing the dust lanes as part of the galaxy disc.

Technical Information:

This is a composite of two images: (i) a single, 2-minute image, at f/1.8 and ISO 400, tracking, for the sky portion of the photo; and (ii) a single 2-minute exposure of the same scene, not tracking (to avoid blurring the foreground terrestrial stuff).

Equipment: Canon 5DSR camera wearing a Sigma 14mm f/1.8 lens, sitting on an iOptron Skyguider Pro tracking mount atop a simple tripod

Location: On the shore of Crescent Lake, Olympic Peninsula, Washington, USA

Date: Data acquired 05:00 UTC, September 16, 2023; image posted September 30, 2023

Copyright Mark de Regt, 2023