Tahoe galaxy

Tahoe galaxy

Tahoe galaxy

Bad Astronomy
The entire universe in blog form
Dec. 23 2010 10:56 AM

Tahoe galaxy

I never get tired of time-lapse videos of the sky. Here's a lovely one, taken in September by photographer Justin Majeczsky, showing the Milky Way rising over Lake Tahoe in the western US:

Phil Plait Phil Plait

Phil Plait writes Slate’s Bad Astronomy blog and is an astronomer, public speaker, science evangelizer, and author of Death From the Skies!  

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Cooool. Things like this make it a whole lot easier to grasp that we live inside the disk of a spiral galaxy. From our vantage point 25,000 light years or so out, you can see the central bulge of the galaxy moving across the sky. That's the combined might of billions of stars and octillions of tons of gas and dust!

If you pause the video four or five seconds in and look to the upper left corner, you can see the stars making up the constellation of Sagittarius. They make a teapot shape! [You can check a map I recently posted of that area of the sky as well; the Teapot is just below and to the left of the Sun's labeled position on the map.] It looks like the Milky Way is steam coming from the spout, too, in one of my favorite and funniest coincidences in the sky.

High-end digital cameras are common enough now that high-resolution videos like this are relatively easy to make -- even moderate cameras can do a great job getting sky shots. I think that's fantastic, since it makes what is essentially naked-eye astronomy so much more accessible! You don't need a fancy telescope or even binoculars to be amazed by the sky.

Tip o' the lens cap to my pal Erin McCarthy.

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