Timelapse Milky Way

This stellar piece of work, Plains Milky Way created by Randy Halverson – Dakotalapse, provides an excellent view of our galaxy as seen from here on Earth.

Gazing up at the sky can prove truly inspirational under the right conditions. On most parts of the Big Island, here in Hawaii, a combination of factors including low levels of light pollution and consistent ocean winds usually provide us with spectacular star gazing opportunities. Some of the best views can be had during night trips to the summit of Mauna Kea.

The Best Look Yet

This stunning image (Photo Release ESO1118) of the NGC 6744 Galaxy, from the European Southern Observatory‘s La Silla Observatory in Chile, represents the best look yet at what our own Milky Way Galaxy may look like.

Humans have not been able to reach far enough to image our Galaxy from the outside, although some projects have attempted to generate an image from within, using special optics and calculations. For example, two teams headed by Sean Carey of NASA’s Spitzer Science Center at the California Institute of Technology and Edward Churchwell of the University of Wisconsin, used 800,000 pictures from  the Spitzer Space Telescope to create an insightful view of the inner Milky Way Galaxy.

At the time, this image (Credit: JPL) was billed as the highest resolution infrared picture ever taken of our Galaxy.

GLIMPSE, Galactic Legacy Infrared Midplane Extraordinaire, was a more extensive survey conducted by the IRAC instrument on board Spitzer Space Telescope to generate an incredible high-resolution panoramic view of our Galaxy. The best way to explore this captivating picture is the online GLIMPSE Image Viewer, hosted by the Space Science Institute.

While the new image  from ESO is not actually of the Milky Way, astronomers indicate that it is the best representation currently available. Moreover, we are fortunate that the angles worked out so that we get an ‘over-head’ view.


Astronomy Picture of the Day continuously reminds us of how amazing our solar system, galaxy and universe can be. Below are a few recent examples. You can find an archive of the photos and accompanying explanations at the APOD website.

A Journey Through the Night Sky: Nick Risinger
Io: The Prometheus Plume: Galileo Project
A Starry Night of Iceland: Stephane Vetter
The Dark Tower in Scorpius: Don Goldman