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Why can't i see the milky way?

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  1. Mar 27, 2012 #1
    i was walking down the road, looking up at the stars and i wondered why i didn't see more, and specifically why i couldn't see the miky way stretching across.

    i live in the city, so i guess the fainter stars will be blocked out by light pollution.

    But surely the light from a billion stars in the galactic core have enough combined output to be seen, even if I'm a city dweller.

    not sure i understand galactic structures well enough to answer this myself, please help!
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 27, 2012 #2

    chemisttree

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    Wrong time of year to see the milky way. That's a summer night time target or you can wait until just before dawn to see it. You will need a fairly dark sky to see it.
     
  4. Mar 27, 2012 #3

    Chronos

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    Yes, the galactic core is located in Sagitarrius which is most easily viewed during summer in the northern hemisphere.
     
  5. Mar 27, 2012 #4

    Drakkith

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    Just FYI, light pollutions doesn't "block" the light from the stars, it merely reduces the contrast between the background light and the stars. Sorry if you already knew this, but I wanted to make sure. Many people don't realize this.
     
  6. Mar 27, 2012 #5

    turbo

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    Yes, and the MW is a very low-contrast object to begin with. I am lucky to live in a region where if you go out during a clear summer night, the MW is unescapable. It is just there! 70-80 miles south of here, and you'd be lucky to even catch a glimpse of the core. Contrast is key with faint extended objects.
     
  7. Mar 27, 2012 #6
    You might Google for your local astronomy club, someone there will surely help you find a reasonably nearby dark site and will probably invite you to their next star party.

    I live in the Washington DC suburbs about nine miles west of Washington, there's no way I can see the Milky Way and it's not even easy to find a dark sky within 30 miles further west of my home.
     
  8. Mar 27, 2012 #7
    though there are many many stars in the galactic bulge, it is also concealed by a great deal of gas and dust that sits on the plane of the galaxy, so you end up not seeing that many more stars in that direction than any other direction. It's part of why early astronomers of the 1800s believed at first that we were in the center of a large disk of stars, since it looked basically the same everywhere.
     
  9. Mar 27, 2012 #8

    turbo

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    That's true. There is a lot of obscuring dust. We have to get into infra-red and other wavelengths to peer through obscurations.
     
  10. Mar 27, 2012 #9

    Drakkith

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    From my front yard I cannot make out any of the milky way. Or Andromeda. From my astrophotography site I can *barely* make out both of these naked eye. In fact, a few weeks ago a friend who images as well pointed the rising milky way out to me as he was leaving. I had to stop him and ask him what he was talking about because I couldn't see it until he took his arm and swept it across the sky. It was the first time I'd seen the milky way from our site.

    I so wish I had been into astronomy when I was deployed to Diego Garcia, a little island in the Indian Ocean. I don't think I ever really looked up the whole 4 months I was there.
     
  11. Mar 27, 2012 #10
    oh jeez, I just looked up where that island is and man the sky must have been pretty good there!

    My dad and I are going to the Sierra Nevada this summer to climb Mt. Whitney and I think I might be looking forward the night sky about as much as anything else on the trip. I had seen the night sky out camping once on a trip to Wyoming and... oh man it's beautiful.
     
  12. Mar 28, 2012 #11

    davenn

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    Yeah, I can't see the MW from home ( within the inner Sydney, Oz) suburbs either :(
    I have to travel at least 30 to 40 km out of town to get to a dark enough sky
    To think I grew up in a location where after 10 mins of dark adaption the MW was a wonderful sight across the sky

    Dave
     
  13. Mar 28, 2012 #12
    I am lucky to live many thousands of feet above sea level in the northern hemisphere in a place with very, very little light pollution. :)

    http://www.photographybydani.net/gallery/nature/cosmic-colours--banff-canada.html [Broken]
    an example of a photograph taken here
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 5, 2017
  14. Mar 28, 2012 #13
  15. Mar 28, 2012 #14

    Drakkith

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    Nice pics! I love that 2nd link where you can see the reflection of the stars in the water.
     
  16. Mar 28, 2012 #15

    Bobbywhy

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    Here is an innovative method of bringing the stars to us who are blinded by the light pollution. Go to this site, download the program, and set in your location. You'll see the Milky Way, planets in real time...plus lots more! It's not as good as reality, but it's a fine substitute.

    http://www.stellarium.org/
     
  17. Mar 28, 2012 #16

    davenn

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    That's an excellent prog. :). Have been using it for some time and have got a number of friends using it too. It gets a lot of use with the laptop out by the scope.

    Dave
     
  18. Apr 8, 2012 #17
    http://hotels.glo-con.com/images/article/259_1.jpg

    Here's the same place in the day time. :) For reference, the two images are facing opposite directions. In the day time photo in the bottom/left corner of the image, the lake thins out there. If you stand at the shoreline of it and turn the opposite direction that the photo is facing you'll see a large clump of rocks, that is the rock clump to the right hand side of the night time image with the aurora. I am blessed to live right beside this place. :) Note that the colour of that water is not doctored or altered, it is legitimately that colour. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rock_flour

    EDIT: Sorry for going off topic there, couldn't resist.
     
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