All About Space

Explore the Milky Way

Be a cosmic tourist and take All About Space’s tour of our home galaxy


Make like a cosmic tourist and take All About Space’s tour of our home galaxy

It’s easy to forget the true beauty and splendour of the Milky Way. With acres of countrysid­e being torn apart in favour of cities, the change in our planet’s landscape can only really mean one thing in this regard: light pollution. This yellow to orange hue plagues many astronomer­s by washing out the stunning gems that our night sky has to offer, with only the brightest objects managing to shine through the haze. And with the added appearance of the bright Moon, it can be very tough to get any observing done that a stargazer feels satisfied with. The fainter and somewhat delicate beauty of our Milky Way galaxy simply can’t compete.

Leaving behind the dazzling, bright lights on a Moonless night, our galaxy will be less obscured. And the sights – particular­ly over the next few weeks – are ones that will make your jaw drop as our galaxy truly reveals all that it’s got.

Allowing your eyes 20 minutes to adjust to the darkness, what you’ll see will be a faint band of light, akin to a backlit cloud, snaking its way through a backdrop of stars. Your eyes alone can’t resolve the Milky Way into individual stars, but that just makes our galaxy all the more alluring when it comes to hunting for the galactic treasures hidden in the Orion Spur – the section of the spiral arm where we live.

Which sections of the Milky Way you’re able to see really depends on your location, as well as the time of year. Throughout July, for example, those in the Southern Hemisphere will find the centre of the Milky Way overhead, its silvery band running from the southweste­rn horizon to the northeast. In the Northern Hemisphere the centre of the Milky Way is low in the southern sky, its dusty path sweeping upwards in an arch across the eastern sky through to the northern horizon. What’s more, some of the Milky Way appears quite mottled, with brighter parts appearing as bursts of star-concentrat­ed clouds interspers­ed with holes, or clouds of interstell­ar dust blocking our view of the stars beyond.

What’s great about the Milky Way is that you don’t need any optical aid to enjoy its true beauty. A dark site and just your eyes can allow you to take in the stunning expanse of our galaxy in all its glory.

“What you’ll see will be a faint band of light snaking its way through a backdrop of stars”

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