RBA Premium Astrophotography

Milky Way, east to west

Posted: September 18th, 2009

See Explanation. Moving the cursor over the image will bring up an image of the Milky Way the way it woud look to our eyes.Clicking on the image will bring up the highest resolution version available of the photo version.
Larger "visual" version
Larger "photo" version

The image you see above is a mosaic of 10 different frames, each of them was acquired with either 5x5 minutes (around the Milky Way) or 5x3-4 minutes for the rest of the sky. The horizons are superimposed from two 3x1' shots, but they match both what was there and the orientation.

It's interesting to note that when I started shooting at the Sagittarius area, the Pleiades weren't even above the horizon, but by the time I've got to that part of the sky, they were already all the way up there.

Now, for the fun part, if you mouse over the image, you will see a digitally altered image of what our eyes could see that night, more or less. If you move the mouse out of the image, you see what the camera could catch. The idea is for those who have never seen the Milky Way from a very dark site, to give them an idea of what it would look like - so maybe they get excited about visiting a dark site and enjoy the night sky!

Have you ever been to a very dark site? I'd like to hear what you think. Do you see the image of the "visual" Milky Way too bright compared to what you see at a very dark site? Too dark? Perhaps the image is too "glowy"? Not enough contrast? Please let me know in the comments below!

Get a poster, t-shirt, mug, mousepad... with this image!



Peter Santangeli (Contact, Page), September 30th, 2009, 19:28
The brightness is about right, but I don't see as much contrast visually. I certainly don't see as much dark nebula, and of course no color. You should probably run it through a monochrome filter.

Tamara Bell (Contact, Page), October 1st, 2009, 9:59

John P (Contact, Page), October 1st, 2009, 10:04
this view I took with a SLR on a tripod and a 20mm lens at GSSP 2008 is pretty close to what I see naked eye at a dark site..

the dark lanes are there but very indistinct to the eye. on your 'visual' they are just way too evident

RBA (Contact, Page), October 1st, 2009, 10:22
Peter and John - thanks for your feedback. I will probably tweak the image a bit more keeping your comments in mind.

Tamara, I agree :-) I think the Milky Way is the most "wow object" one can see from a dark site indeed!

Joe Manley (Contact, Page), October 1st, 2009, 14:13
Your photos are a pleasure.

I've been to two dark places, just north of San Simeon (Hearst Castle), midwinter, and a good piece northeast of Auburn at a little lake toward Tahoe called Big Reservoir, just a few weeks ago.

The first place I mentioned was a dark gray area on the light pollution map (see http://i30.photobucket.com/albums/c322/manley620/global_northam_Vb.jpg) and the second was blue.

In each of these places, and in the "yellow" area an hour west of my house in Indianapolis, IN, I saw the sky very much as in your mouseover photo.

The only difference is that the dark patches in the milky way in the photo aren't as contrasting and dark. In fact, it is the rest of the night sky that is that black, with pinpoints of light instead of an overall grayish hue.

I think this would be inspiring -- maybe enough to get some more buddies on my next new moon trip! Love your work -- keep it coming.

Maria Hoyla (Contact, Page), October 6th, 2009, 19:44
This photo was very close to what I saw on the same night September 18th, & 19th 2009 in Bar Harbor, Maine. I thought there was a more navy background with the glow being a mellow brightness with prominent stars. The brightness of the stars being of high quality diamonds in the sky. The time before that I saw the Milky Way was near Fairbanks, Alaska in the middle of winter about 20 years ago and the band was seemingly more prominent in the sky. Your photo is beautiful...I would love to be able to see the Milky way more, however, living in Alaska there are more clouds in the winter. We are at a disadvantage and can only see the stars in the winter due to having midnight sun in the summer, and in the winter it is too cold to stand outside to look at stars. The Milky Way, never the less is a stunning sight to see, worth the effort if you are in the right place at the right time.

Emanuel (Contact, Page), August 15th, 2010, 18:37
Hey, greetings from Argentina! Loved these pics and the others you have here :)
Well, I'm not an astrophotography expert, but about what I know, I can tell you that what I found strange here (and again, from my inexperience) is that, in the "visual" one, the center of the MW looks more dark than the disk, unless that this is caused for the nearby horizont there.
The other is that, again, in the "visual" pic, the stars look more bright, or marked, than in the "photo" version.
Finally, the most curious one, is that little glowing thing in the botton right... Is it M57, the "Ring" nebula? I must say that I don't remember Lyra's location, so I have to ask this to you to correct my idea.
No more things to make clear. Congratulations for the images, and hope to see more future images with this stunning quality of yours.


RBA (Contact, Page), August 16th, 2010, 1:05
Maria and Emanuel, thank you so much for your comments!

Emanuel, the bright "glowing thing" you're referring to is Jupiter.

Frank Roy (Contact, Page), September 10th, 2010, 18:45
Hello Regelio,

Excellent wide-angle mosaic.
I was trying to compare to this image taken here in Canada. A 9 frame mosaic with a 50mm f/4 Canon 350D.
Your image scale is different they are hard to compare.


RBA (Contact, Page), September 13th, 2010, 23:12
Hi Frank.
Your image didn't load for some reason :-/

Zachary (Contact, Page), November 9th, 2010, 11:57
I see 2 distant galaxies in the "photo" version
One in the lower right ( possibly Andromeda )
and one in the center below below our galaxies arm.
what are they.

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