THE LIGHTS ABOVE: MILKY WAY & ZODIACAL LIGHT
Image Credit & Copyright: Cory Schmitz http://astroshake.com/. CLICK image for larger view and look below for information and many of Cory’s links.
This incredible image comes from the immensely talented South African photographer, Cory Schmitz aka; “The AstroShake.” Shot at Rooikloof Farm in the Karoo Desert, near Sutherland, South Africa there are some pretty spectacular things going on in this image. As I always preach, the foreground object can really help or hinder an image greatly and in this photo it’s just perfect. No light painting necessary on the windmill here as the lights in the sky create a spectacle all their own.
In this image the nucleus of the Milky Way Galaxy; our star city, glows brilliantly as we watch from the suburbs. It really is amazing how much light we can capture from the Milky Way with the vast bands of thick dust and material stretching along its plane, shrouding much of its glow from us.
And what’s that glowing orb just above the horizon? Based on its location do you have any guesses? If you said Venus you would be correct. In this particular case, Venus acts as the heliacal “Phosphorus, the Light Bringer” or the “Morning Star” as it signals the approach of sunrise.
Also in this image is the light highway that Venus is traveling on around the plane of the ecliptic and it appears to be aiming for the heart of the Milky Way. That’s the “False Dawn” or Zodiacal Light and its best viewed in spring and fall when the ecliptic is highest in the sky. Those lucky enough to reside near equatorial regions pretty much get a year round view. Soooo what is it? I’ll do a complete post on zodiacal light before fall but in short its tiny particles or simply cosmic dust, in the inner solar system believed to be caused by comet material and asteroid collisions. It like almost everything else that orbits the sun tends to pancake or flatten out and live out its life in the plane of the ecliptic. It’s important to note that it must be extremely dark to view it and like anything else in astrophotography it will be easier to pick up with a camera sensor than your eyes so forget about it while the moon holds the night sky stage.
Congratulations to Cory on just an amazing capture and be sure to check out his other works in the links below as he’s not just a wide field astrophotographer. Many of his images are deep sky objects (DSOs) as well as daytime landscape images that rival anyone’s I’ve seen.
Cory Schmitz: http://astroshake.com/
Google Plus: https://plus.google.com/photos/+CorySchmitz/albums