Gary Peltz captured the image above in Saguaro National Park – near Tucson, Arizona – at around 4 a.m. on the morning of April 11, 2018. He wrote:
We were out poking around the park looking for good foregrounds to go with the Milky Way in the West Section of Saguaro National Park. I think this one was the best. The cactus are illuminated from a vehicle’s headlights that lit things up just long enough to make it interesting, so I guess you can say I lucked out! The yellow glow is from light pollution of south Tucson.
Despite being portrayed in many illustrations and old movies about the American West, saguaros are found in a relatively small area. You’ll see these iconic cacti growing naturally only in the Sonoran Desert in Arizona, and also in parts of southern California, Baja California and half of the state of Sonora, Mexico. According to the National Park Service, the average saguaro has about five arms and is about 30 feet (9 meters) tall. Some live to be well over 200 years old.
Bottom line: Milky Way over saguaro cacti on an April morning, 2018.
Deborah Byrd created the EarthSky radio series in 1991 and founded EarthSky.org in 1994. Today, she serves as Editor-in-Chief of this website. She has won a galaxy of awards from the broadcasting and science communities, including having an asteroid named 3505 Byrd in her honor. A science communicator and educator since 1976, Byrd believes in science as a force for good in the world and a vital tool for the 21st century. "Being an EarthSky editor is like hosting a big global party for cool nature-lovers," she says.