Take the 2-minute tour ×
Physics Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for active researchers, academics and students of physics. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Is this photo "real"? Are the stars not super-imposed in the image?

   galaxy

share|improve this question
19  
City dweller, eh? Though in the US even fairly small towns are bright enough these days to interfere with casual star gazing. It's worth your time to get away from the light pollution some clear night and take the time to get your eyes dark-adapted. –  dmckee Sep 7 '11 at 18:29
2  
On a side note: if you're seeing any stars in the night sky you're already seeing our galaxy. It's just a smaller part than visible under good conditions (see picture above). –  xmjx Sep 8 '11 at 6:25
1  
"Milky Way" = galaxias (γαλαξίας) was given its name by the ancient greek. What kind of telescopes do You thing they used? :=) Georg –  Georg Sep 14 '11 at 19:41

5 Answers 5

up vote 26 down vote accepted

Not quite like in the photo above, which shows more than what the naked eye can see, but yes, absolutely! Our galaxy (well, the chunk of it visible from these parts) is a naked-eye object. The fact that your question even exists shows how much time is now spent by people under light-polluted skies.

It will not be visible from the city, however. You need to drive an hour (or two, if you live in a huge urban area) to the country side, far from city lights. Stay outside in full darkness for a few minutes, then look up. There will be a faint "river" of light crossing the sky. That's the Milky way. Full dark adaptation occurs after 30 minutes of not seeing any source of light, but this is not required for seeing our galaxy.

While you're in a dark sky area, also look up the Andromeda galaxy, a.k.a. M31.

http://www.physics.ucla.edu/~huffman/m31.html

I mean, if you can see M31 with the naked eye, at 2 mil light-years away, then of course you can see Milky Way, which is basically in our backyard.

Here's a light pollution map, not very recent, but still useful:

http://www.jshine.net/astronomy/dark_sky/

share|improve this answer
    
I like the map, but expanding it to show the whole of the lower 48, I'm glad I have mostly lived west of the Mississippi. –  dmckee Sep 7 '11 at 18:31
    
@Florin: The fact that you can see Andromeda with the naked eye doesn't at all "of course" mean you can see the Milky Way. The Milky Way subtends the entire sky (since we're in it). Say the naked-eye visible part of M31 is 0.1 degrees across -- that means that MW is 1/3600^2 more diffuse. At any rate -- the fact that MW is not naked-eye visible in some places where M31 is proves the fallacy of your logic. –  ThePopMachine Jun 13 '12 at 19:46
1  
From Paranal in chile (where that VLT picture was taken) it does look almost like that. The first night I saw it - I thought it was a cloud. –  Martin Beckett Oct 2 '12 at 3:05

Can the "Milky Way" galaxy be seen by the naked eye in a clear sky?

Yes. I live in rural Ontario, Canada, and see the Milky Way naked eye every clear moonless night from my deck.

Is this photo "real"? Are the stars not super-imposed in the image?

Yes, the photo is real. This is a time exposure, fairly short, guided on the stars. If you look at it closely, you will see that the stars and the Milky Way are extremely sharp, but the observatory buildings are blurred, because the camera was guided on the stars, which were moving because of the Earth's rotation, so that the buildings "trailed." This is probably a single exposure, not any sort of combination of images or PhotoShop manipulation. My friend Terry Dickinson produces images like this all the time—this may in fact be one of his images. The diagonal line is a laser mounted on the telescope in the dome, used for image stabilization.

share|improve this answer

Certainly, low light and taking and good "heaven", you can see much of the Milky Way. the only thing you need to know is to know where to look.

However, some parts of it are brighter than others. The center of the galaxy is the most spectacular and is in the same direction as the constellation Sagittarius.

This area of ​​the sky can be seen every year in early March just before dawn. In July and August appears high in the sky. On a clear dark night and stands out as a vapor cloud within the Milky Way itself.

The cloud is interstellar dust and prevents us from seeing the center, which lies 27,000 light-years away. What we see is the spiral arm of the galaxy called the Sagittarius arm formed by stars, star clusters and nebulae.

share|improve this answer

In fact, the Milky Way is one of the most interesting naked eye sights in the night sky. However, it's not bright, and it's not always well placed to be seen. Follow this website to find all the information needed to see the milky way with the naked eye.

share|improve this answer
1  
I must say that - "link-only" answers are discouraged here. Your suggestion doesn't seem to be "Physics"(ic). You could atleast post something which addresses the question instead of exclaiming about Milky way :-) –  Waffle's Crazy Peanut Nov 21 '12 at 14:52

Yes, the Milky Way can be seen quite clearly from earth. You just need to go somewhere dark. In fact, the name "Milky Way" is derived from its appearance in the sky (it looks like a milky path, or "way", in the sky). The Chinese name for the Milky Way is the "Silver River," an alternate description for its appearance in the sky. Both these names predate telescopes (the first known reference to the Milky Way is in a work by Chaucer), providing very roundabout proof that the Milky Way is visible to the naked eye on earth.

share|improve this answer

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.