Wonderful Milky Way

Starlight reflections

We’ve seen wonderful skies over the last two nights as the Milky Way has risen. The sky has been anything but dark with the Milky Way clearly casting a shadow and illuminating the ground. Observing and imaging from around 2200 metres last night, we were treated to a gorgeous sky with huge contrast and detail visible in the Milky Way. The Great Cluster in Hercules (Messier M13) could be made out overhead with the naked eye and peering down to the southern horizon, we could even see the triangle of stars that are the top three stars of the Southern Cross below the ever-stunning and easy naked eye target of globular cluster Omega Centauri.

Omega Centauri above the Southern Cross

The sky offered many different vistas depending on where we looked: north and there were fewer but more distinct stars with darker sky in between and the major constellations of Ursas Major and Minor with Draco the dragon in between; east and there was the trailing spiral arm of the Milky Way with its myriad small bright stars arching to the horizon and signature constellations of Lyrae, Cygnus and Cassiopea; south and we were overwhelmed by the glow of the centre of the galaxy and the dark contrast in its dust lanes with Sagittarius and Scorpio high in the sky and planets Saturn and Mars;

Milky Way central

and west we had the super-bright Jupiter with constellations Libra, Virgo and Leo suspended over El Teide. We sighted over twenty meteors between us including two or three nice bright, green ones and a few satellites.

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