Milky Way
Milky Way, near Sequim, 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. While out on the Olympic Peninsula in Washington, we went out on a new moon night to see if the sky was dark enough to try a Milky Way shot. With the theme from "Deliverance" reverberating in our heads, we were reluctant to head too far into the wildnerness in the middle of the night, so we did some daytime reconnaisance, settling for a break in the woods a few miles from the city of Sequim; Bortle 4 skies, according to the map I looked at. When it finally got dark enough, there was a significant amount of the Milky Way showing; not like at a true dark site, but not bad for suburbia. We were up and out, so I fired away. I was again heartened to see what four-minute exposures could do!

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, 4-minute image, at f/2.2 and ISO 400, tracking, for the sky portion of the photo; and (ii) a single, shorter, exposure of the same scene, not tracking (to avoid blurring the foreground terrestrial stuff). We did some rudimentary "rock painting" of the hillside, with our little flashlight, to try to bring out some local color.

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: Near Sequim, Washington, USA

Date: Data acquired 06:00 UTC, August 16, 2023; image posted August 22, 2023

Copyright Mark de Regt, 2023