The Milky Way Galaxy is one of the most interesting naked eye sights in the night sky. The name comes from its appearance as a dim glowing milky band arching across the night sky. The term Milky Way is a translation from Latin via lactea and Greek milky circle as seen from inside. However, it’s not bright, and it’s not always well placed to be seen. So to see the Milky Way Galaxy Earth, you will have to meet the following minimum requirements:
‐ Finding a dark clear night sky with no moonlight are the key words here for a best view of the Milky Way in the grand design (you can get an app that will show you the Moon Phases Calendar);
‐ No city lights, no headlights, basically as far as you can from any source of light pollution. You will need to travel far from any city, to a wild area or rural countryside. The best viewing site would be from the middle of the ocean either northern hemisphere or southern hemisphere being so far away from the artificial city lights.
‐ No telescopes, no binoculars, (just eyeglasses if you’re near sighted) and at least one eyeball. TIP: Using binoculars can increase the view experience being able to see other galaxies as Andromeda Galaxy (M31), nebulae and event comets.
‐ Best atmospheric conditions, a misty sky wouldn’t block it completely, nor would humidity. It would make it not as sharp, but still visible.
‐ Give your eyes at least 15-20 minutes to adapt to the darkness though. Your eyes will become more sensitive to low light level.
‐ A little bit of timing in late summer or winter evenings in Northern Hemisphere.
We live in the Milky Way Galaxy, this means that every time we gaze at the night sky we are looking at the Milky Way Galaxy. More exactly the spiral arm closer to the galactic center one part of the year and in the other part we see the near edge of the spiral arm farther from the galactic center. Due to nebula and dust clouds, we can’t see the center of the Milky Way (in visible light) at any time.
The Milky Way Galaxy is our home in the existing Univers, it is a barred spiral galaxy 100,000‐120,000 light-years in diameter containing 200‐400 billion stars and at least as many planets including our solar system. The galactic center is named Sagittarius A and its belived to hold a supermassive black hole with an estimated mass of 4.1‐4.5 million times the mass of our Sun.
Milky Way Galaxy is approximately 13.7 billion years old, almost as the Universe itself. The age is determined by taking the age of the stars in the Milky Way.
The Milky Way contains at least 100 billion stars and may have up to 400 billion stars. The exact number is not known.
Earth, along with the Solar System, is situated in the Milky Way galaxy, orbiting about 28,000 light years from the center of the galaxy.
From the Moon, Asteroids, and Planets to countless deep space objects, you can discover something new in the night sky just about every night of the year within the vast expansion of the Universe.
As the Earth makes its annual orbit around the Sun, we get the opportunity to view special celestial events like meteor showers, conjunctions, and eclipses. Some last just a few hours while others can last several days or weeks, but once they’re here, time is of the essence! So mark your calendar, grab your telescope, and take a look at some of 2016’s unforgettable events.
– Welcome the New Year with the Quadrantids (QUA) are a January meteor shower. The Zenithal Hourly Rate (ZHR) of this shower can be as high as 40 meteors per hour, incoming from the constellation Bootes. Yet Quadrantid meteors will be diminished this year thanks to a bright second quarter Moon, but you may still be able to spot a few during the night.
All eyes turn toward Jupiter as it basks in full sunlight during its opposition. Jupiter is sure to delight all who view it, from professional observatories to amateurs with handheld binoculars. Make sure to check out its four Galilean moons and see if you can make out colorful cloud bands or the Great Red Spot. If you’ve ever considered dabbling in planetary imaging, tonight would be the perfect night to start!
There is perhaps no other celestial event as spectacular as a total solar eclipse-when the Moon completely blocks the solar disk, darkening the daytime sky and revealing the Sun’s dazzling corona. Unfortunately for the rest of us, only a select few people in Indonesia and on boats on the Pacific Ocean will catch this one. But hang tight! A once-in-a-lifetime total eclipse will cross the entire continental United States next year on August 21, 2017.
This unusual type of eclipse occurs when the Moon passes through the penumbra, the outermost edges of the Earth’s shadow. The Moon will appear to get darker, but will not take on the typical red hue of a total lunar eclipse.
Bright Moon phases will obscure many of this year’s best meteor showers, but a new Moon on the night of May 6 ensures dark skies for the Eta Aquarids, which is composed of the remnants of the famous Comet Halley. Meteors—up to 30 per hour in the Northern Hemisphere and 60 per hour in the Southern-will appear to radiate from Aquarius.
This will be the highlight of 2016 for many amateur astronomers. The elusive Mercury, one of the most difficult planets to view, will be out in broad daylight—literally! Look through a telescope equipped with a suitable solar filter and you’ll be able to view tiny Mercury transit across the surface of the Sun. This rare celestial event will be visible throughout much of the world, but observers along the eastern coasts of the Americas will get the best view.
Although Mars is our next door neighbor, it’s the second smallest planet in the Solar System, making it difficult to observe in detail through a telescope. Your best shot will come on May 22, when Mars and Earth reach their closest points to one another. Try viewing Mars in a large telescope to see if you can spot its polar ice caps or any of the darker regions on the rusty-red surface.
Saturn rules the summer sky, but on this night, the ringed planet truly takes center stage. When it reaches opposition, Saturn will be bright and fully illuminated by the Sun. You may even notice that its rings look brighter than usual thanks to a phenomenon known as the Seeliger Effect. Take it all in! Saturn’s rings will be visible in even small aperture telescopes.
Calling all Southern Hemisphere observers! Get out your telescope and enjoy the longest night of the year! The winter solstice is the perfect time to enjoy a stargazing marathon. You’ll get several hours of additional observing time compared to summer when days are much longer. (Unfortunately for Northern Hemisphere astronomers, this is your shortest night of the year. But you’ll get your own winter solstice in December!)
Back in 2011, NASA launched the spacecraft Juno to study Jupiter’s polar region. On Independence Day, Juno will complete its five-year journey and begin its important work. Take a look at Jupiter in your telescope and imagine what Juno’s first encounter with Jupiter must be like.
The Perseids meteor shower is one of the main celestial events of the summer. This year, skies will be dark after the Moon sets around midnight, leaving the sky ready for peak meteor viewing, up to 60 per hour. This shower’s timing is perfect for a summer camping trip to your favorite dark sky site. Here’s to eating s’mores by the campfire and seeing s’more meteors overhead!
Following its dramatic transit across the Sun in May, this is your next best opportunity to observe Mercury. On this day, it reaches maximum distance away from the Sun. Look to the western horizon just after sunset and you can catch a glimpse of the tiny planet.
It doesn’t get much closer than this! The two brightest planets, Venus and Jupiter, will appear to have an ultra-close encounter in the evening sky, coming within 0.06 degrees of one another. This amazing event will occur just after sunset in the western sky.
Also known as the “Ring of Fire,” an annular solar eclipse is similar to a total eclipse, except that the Moon is farther away from the Earth, so it’s not large enough to completely cover the Sun. Observers in certain parts of Africa including Congo and Madagascar will be treated to this unique celestial phenomenon. If you won’t be there yourself, check the web for photos of the event afterward!
Viewing the blue giant Neptune can be tricky, so if this planet’s been on your wish list, make tonight the night you finally observe it. Even though it’s closer on this night than any other night of the year, the planet is still approximately 2.7 billion miles away, so it will appear as a tiny blue dot in most telescopes.
This is the second penumbral eclipse of the year, but will treat a different region of the globe to a similar show. Sky-watchers in the Americas will miss out on this one, but it will be visible throughout much of the rest of the world including eastern Europe, eastern Africa, Asia, and western Australia.
Like Neptune before it, Uranus reaches prime viewing position when it enters opposition and becomes fully illuminated by the Sun. This cold, distant planet is so far away that its unusal ring and surface detail cannot be observed through a telescope. However, you will be able to appreciate its unique blue-green color in the eyepiece or with a planetary camera.
The Orionids, meteors left behind in the wake of Halley’s Comet, will race through the skies on the evening of October 21. As they do, they’ll be competing with the light of the second quarter Moon. But these meteors, numbering up to 20 per hour, tend to be among the brightest of the year. Look toward the constellation Orion for the best chance of spotting these celestial visitors.
Normally a full Moon is a death sentence for a meteor shower, so a Supermoon on the night of December 14 will certainly put a damper on the usually-breathtaking Geminids. However, since the Geminids are the biggest and brightest shower of the year, a few “shooting stars” might peek through the Moon glow. Make a night of it by observing craters and geographical features on the Moon and see if a stray meteor streaks by here and there.
As temperatures drop in the Northern Hemisphere, days grow shorter and shorter. On December 21, get out there and enjoy an extra-long observing session; it’s the shortest day and longest night of the year!