Milky Way Galaxy from the Maldives

Nishan has posted a really gorgeous photo of the night sky he recently took from the island of Guraidhoo. His long exposure photo, directed South at a low angle above a nearby uninhabited island, shows the nice circular star trail left by the rotation of the Earth against the canopy of the night sky.

There are a couple of bright star (trails) in the photo. The first bright star from the left of the photo is Alpha Centauri. It is the fourth brightest star in the sky and is the closest star system to Earth. Although it appears as a single star unmagnified, is actually a binary star system (two stars orbiting around each other). The bright blueish star trail next to that of Alpha Centauri is left by Beta Centauri, again a single star to us that actually is composed of three distinct stars. A line through Alpha Centauri and Hadar point to the top star of the Crux (Southern Cross) constellation. The five stars of the Southern Cross appear in the middle of the photo, with the four bright ones visible in a distinct cross pattern. The Southern Cross is called so because the top and bottom stars point very close to the (celestial) South.

However, what I really liked about Nishan's photo is that it is the first picture of the Maldivian night sky posted online that I've seen that shows clearly our galaxy, the Milky Way. You can see the Milky Way in the picture as a faint haze extending across the trail of stars. That haze is, trivially said, because of the increased concentration of stars towards the galactic center. Our Solar System is very far from the galactic center that affords us this beautiful scene of the busy and bustling center of the galaxy!

"Startrails in the tropical islands" by Millzero.

View of the same patch of sky as seen in Stellarium (simulation).


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  1. Jerry Jenkins says:

    Here is a suggestion on how to manipulate your images by converting them from jpg to png. It is very simple to use Try it out!

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