Milky Way
Milky Way, Zion National Park, Utah, 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. Zion is quite dark, but we had to get up at 3am to take the Milky Way in April, so we didn't want to go far from our room. This was taken from the parking lot outside our room at Zion Lodge, so there was some ambient light; otherwise it's Bortle 1 skies there.

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.

This was my second "serious" attempt at capturing the Milky Way with a "normal" camera. It has a learning curve, and it's difficult to find truly dark sites. I had just acquired a simple "tracking mount," which allows me to take images longer than 15 seconds without having star trails (as our planet rotates relative to the stars). This was the first time using it, and I was very pleased with how well it worked, allowing me to take a 4-minute exposure without significant star trails.

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 red-rock cliff). We did some rudimentary "rock painting" of the red cliff, 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: Zion National Park, Utah, USA

Date: Data acquired 10:11 UTC, April 21, 2023; image posted August 21, 2023

Copyright Mark de Regt, 2023