Milky Way from Northern Ireland

May 07, 2011

All Sky Beaghmore  Mar 1  2011 copy web (2) 
Photographer: Martin Campbell
Summary Author: Martin Campbell; Jim Foster

The image above shows the soft glow of the Milky Way as observed in early spring from Beaghmore County (near Tyrone) in Northern Ireland. Beaghmore is an important Neolithic site. Because it's fairly remote, nighttime skies here are quite dark. On this view, north is at top or 12:00 on the hands of a clock. The Milky Way stretches across the sky between about 1:00 and 5:00. Our spiral galaxy contains more than 100 billion stars, but because much of this starlight is attenuated by interstellar dust clouds, it doesn't dazzle the eye. Nonetheless, the integrated magnitude of the entire Milky Way is approximately −5.0, which is brighter than Venus at its brightest. Note that the constellation of Orion is at bottom right (5:00). The bright blob at right center is the Pleiades star cluster, and the Big Dipper (Ursa Major) is prominent at upper right -- the handle is at 10:00. Image taken on March 4, 2011.

Photo details: Canon 5D mkII camera; a 8mm fisheye lens; stacked 40 second exposures (comprising approximately 30-40 frames); ISO 1600. Images taken around 11 p.m. local time.