This Road Leads to the Heart of the Milky Way

The Path by Tyler Sichelski

This road near Phoenix, Arizona leads to the heart of the Milky Way. Well, that’s assuming your car will handle the 26,000 light-year drive, and can fly through, uh, space. And you can endure the cold, radiation and space madness. Anyway, you get the metaphor.

Tyler Sichelski took this photo of the galactic core, the central bulge of the Milky Way. It’s a region of incredible density and activity, and at the very heart, hidden from our view is the Milky Way’s supermassive black hole, with 4 million times the mass of the Sun. Within a parsec’s distance of this black hole, there are thousands of old, main-sequence stars as well as some of the hottest, brightest stars around.

Path by Tyler Sichelski
Path by Tyler Sichelski

Unfortunately, we can’t actually see the center of the galaxy because of the gas and dust that obscures our view. And in this photograph, you can actually see the dark dust lanes and regions. Many of the nebulae you’re familiar with are in this picture, like the Lagoon Nebula, the Omega Nebula and the Trifid Nebula. In fact, it’s hard to know where one nebula ends, and the next one starts.

Tyler used a Canon 6D camera with a 16-28mm f/2.8 lens. He took 10 separate exposures of the sky and then stacked them up in Photoshop.

Of course, you should check out more of Tyler’s photographs at the Universe Today Flickr photo pool (nearly 2,000 members and 33,000 photographs now). This is a place where astrophotographers share their photos of the night sky, and then we reshare them on our website and across our social media.

Star Trails as Seen From Space

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Astronaut Don Pettit has just put another wow-factor in astrophotography from the International Space Station, and provided a whole new perspective on a common but eye-catching photography technique of creating star trails. He posted two images on his Google+ page, with this description: “Star trails. I leave the shutter open for a long period, and our orbital motion makes the stars streak.” Just gorgeous.

See his second stunning image below.

Star trails, with a module from the International Space Station showing up in black. Credit: Don Pettit/NASA