NIGHT SKIES OVER SOUTH AFRICA
Image Credit & Copyright: Tanja Sund http://www.astrotanja.com/. CLICK image for larger view and look below for information and links.
This image comes from the incredibly talented South African photographer, Tanja Sund and it’s a view of our star city, the Milky Way Galaxy over RooiKloof Farm in the Karoo Desert, Sutherland, South Africa. In this image the nucleus of the galaxy glows brightly as countless billions of stars do their best to illuminate the sky through that immense, thick band of gas and dust that permeates the galactic plane. Like ants looking up through the grass, we peer through the tree tops. Unlike the ants, we have the ability to wonder, ponder and understand the enormity of what we’re seeing.
Ever stop to think about where the Milky Way got its name? You wouldn’t be the first and it actually dates back much further than even Galileo, which as many of you know is responsible for the discovery that the Milky Way was an enormous collection of stars but even he had no concept of what he was seeing. It would be hundreds of years after Galileo that we would understand that we were viewing an edge on view of a spiral galaxy.
I digress…..Ok back to the name. Back as far as the Greeks it was known as Galaxias Kyklos or The Milky Circle. The Greek myth goes that Zeus brought Heracles to Hera to suckle when she was asleep. As baby Heracles was having his meal, Hera woke up suddenly and pushed him away, resulting in a few drops of spilt milk. The drops created the galaxy that is now known as the Milky Way. Years later the Romans would tweak the name to Via Lactea or The Milky Road and eventually to what we call it today; The Milky Way. There are no names to credit with the naming of our home spiral as it dates back too far for records to have accurately revealed but one cool naming fact has always been (at least to me) pretty cool. The word galaxies which stated above, is literally a Greek word for milk. So every time you say the word galaxy, you’re for all intents and purposes, saying “milk.”
I truly hope you all enjoy this image and if you do, go visit more of Tanja’s works as she has everything from wide field night sky images to deep sky objects & tutorials to amazing landscape and scenery images.
Tanja Sund: http://www.astrotanja.com/
Google Plus: https://plus.google.com/+TanjaSund/posts