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See the early morning Milky Way

The edgewise view into our own galaxy, looking toward the galaxy’s heart, from EarthSky community members who ventured into the cold and darkness before dawn in February 2018.

Chirag Upreti wrote on February 17, 2018: “Milky Way core, first light for 2018! A fortunate break in the weather coincided with a favorable moon phase today early morning. Impossible to resist, a buddy and I drove 3 hours to get to Montauk, the easternmost tip of New York State and the location of the Montauk Point Lighthouse.” Sony A7R3. Tamron 15-30mm. 10-shot panorama (stitched in LR). Each image at ISO 4000, 30mm, f/2.8, 15sec shutter speed.

The Milky Way is, of course, our home galaxy, and it’s a spiral galaxy, with a flat disk and central bulge. We live in one of the galaxy’s spiral arms, about two-thirds of the way out from the center. If your sky is dark enough, you sometimes can see the flat disk of the galaxy in your night sky. Late summer is the best time to look in the evening, because then we’re looking toward the center of the galaxy. As spring is about to arrive each year, we always hear from astrophotographers who’ve ventured into the early morning darkness to capture the core of the Milky Way returning before dawn.

Here’s another shot of the Milky Way from Mountauk Point, New York – February 19, 2018 – from Jmoises Ramirez. As you can see, several planets and the bright star Antares in the constellation Scorpius the Scorpion are also noticeable now in this part of the sky. EarthSky planet guide here.

RodNell Barclay caught this image of the Milky Way in mid-February 2018 while coming down from Ben Vrackie, a mountain in Scotland.

Vidhyacharan HR caught this image from Myles Standish State Park in Massachusetts on February 17, 2018. He wrote: “Early morning encounter with Milky Way … my first encounter for this year. This shot was captured during twilight, before the sunrise.” Nikon D750, Nikkor 20mm 1.8, With Hoya intensifier filter, Exif: ISO 2500, F/1.8, 20.0 sec.

Jatin Thakkar created this composite from images acquired from Sohier Park, York, Maine, on February 17, 2018. It was 4:40 a.m., temperature around 15 degrees Fahrenheit (-9 Celsius). The Milky Way is rising over the Atlantic Ocean. Jatin wrote: “This is a panorama of 6 images. Each image is a blend of 6 images for noise reduction (total 36 images used).” Nikon D750 with Nikkor 50mm f/1.8.

RV Photography shot this photo at Mälarhusens Strand, a beach in southern Sweden, in mid-February 2018. He wrote: “The sun is creeping ever nearer to the horizon and soon dawn will be here … Time for one last shot and then sit and watch the sky for awhile.”

Bottom line: Photos of the Milky Way before dawn in February, 2018.

Deborah Byrd

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