Thursday, May 28, 2009

The Backbone Of Night

"We are in the midst of millions and millions of suns-we are in the jewel house of the maker, and our soul mounts up, up to that wonderful creator, and we adore the hand that scattered the jewels of heaven so lavishly in this one vast region."

Edward Emerson Barnard.

There is just something about viewing our Milky Way Galaxy that invokes a sense of awe, so majestic, so huge. What can I possibly say or put into words that hasn't been already said or googled.

There are people in this world that aren't muddied by information, that don't have high speed Internet access, people such as the contemporary hunter gathers, "!Kung Bushmen", they actually believe the Milky Way holds up the sky.... if not for the Milky Way surely the stars would come crashing down to Earth, hence they call it "The Backbone Of Night", wow, to be a bushguy and enjoy stuff for just stuff, mind you they have to pray it doesn't break or they all die, but still, how magnificent it must be to be in their place under the stars, to look at the heavens so differently.

I went out with Astro-Nuts to our local astronomy club's dark site to image the night sky and to see what we could see, was lucky enough to capture a green/violet aurora along with the Milky Way, don't mean to be a braggy Bob again... well maybe a little, the image above was Editor's choice for the Sky and Telescope magazine's web site in their Reader's Photo Gallery section.
Image was taken with my Canon 40D and 10-17mm Tokina fisheye lens, 60 second exposure, ISO 3200, F3.5.

Our Milky Way is classified as a spiral galaxy with anywhere from 200-400 billion stars, the center, the bulge near the horizon, in the constellation Sagittarius has the highest concentration of stars therefore generally the brightest part of the Milky Way. Our Solar System orbit's the Galactic Center once every 220 million years.

Milky Way twirled in Photoshop.

While out that night saw a few meteors and captured the one above.

I'll leave you now with an animated version of one of my Milky Way shots.


joefox said...

Another good post Bob. I was waiting for you to post these Milky Way pictures. They look great. Well, since I got my new camera today, I'm hoping to capture similar images. The one with the meteor looks good too. Another good capture. I'm hoping to get back out to the site again soon, but don't remember the roads to take, so need a little help in that department. Anyway, I will be posting the first pics I took with the D90 so check them out on my blog.

Susanne49 said...

I like the Milky Way twirled...that's anyway how it looks, right...? :)

Great post,Bob!

Sue's Daily Photography

Stephanie B said...

I have to admit, and it may be a factor on my non-astronomy-ness, I'm an urbanite and always have been. With the ambient light around me, even at night, I never see more than our brighter stars, some planets, the gorgeous moon...

If it wasn't for heart-stopping pictures like yours, I wouldn't know what people meant by seeing the Milky Way in the sky.

Swubird said...


Super shots as always. I've always admired the Milky Way. I remember way back when I lived on the edge of Death Valley, the nights were as clear as glass and I could see the Milky Way like a string scintillating diamonds stretching across the black sky. I recently saw a program about the giant black hole at the center of the Milky Way. Amazing.

Happy trails.

Ivanhoe said...

Keep bragging, Bob :o) These are fantastic and only help develop my imagination about somebody or something being up there after all..

The Uneasy Supplicant said...

ts on having your photo selected for the Editor's choice on the Sky and Telescope magazine's web site. I can see why. Beautiful shot.
As you know I live in the country far from any major city or town and have the privilege of being able to pull out my lawn chair at night, lie down and stare at the Milky way on a clear night. It's awesome. The quote you chose for this post fits the sentimentality perfectly. Well done my friend.

The Uneasy Supplicant said...

*congrats (in case you weren't sure what the first letters meant in my last comment) lol
Take it easy Bob!

Bob Johnson said...

Thanks Colin, we'll head out tonight and give the new camera a try.\m/\m/

Bob Johnson said...

Thanks Susanne, that's right, it is how it looks from above that's why I like to twirl it.\m/\m/

Bob Johnson said...

Thanks Stephanie, I have to leave the city about 40 minutes to see the Milky Way, the light pollution is killer for my hobby, and it's getting worse by the year with all the light hungry casinos going up.\m/\m/

Bob Johnson said...

Thanks swubird, I would love to see the Milky Way from the deserts of Nevada, even our dark site can't compete with that.\m/\m/

Bob Johnson said...

Thanks Ivanhoe, it does make you think of other worlds and beings doesn't it, I do a lot of reflecting under the stars and wonder how I fit in to all that shines above.\m/\m/

Bob Johnson said...

Lol, JD, I got the drift. Yes I know, you are very lucky to be able to take advantage of our Milky Way and all the other stuff in the night sky that is blocked by light pollution in our cities, so sad for us less fortunate.\m/\m/

Final_Transit said...

Thankyou so much Bob! You brought to me memories of watching the milky way from chilly summers I spent in the Himalayas. Away from civilization and closer to the sky. Beautiful pictures. :)

Genie said...

Incredibly beautiful quote, Bob. That's exactly what the stars look like if you drive up into the hills just north of my town, like glittering diamonds scattered on velvet. And that's an understatement. The sky sparkles in a way I could never describe, the quote is as close as I've ever read.

The photos are, as usual, fantastic! Way to go getting editor's pick!

"Backbone of the night," what a beautiful way to put it. I love that perspective.

Bob Johnson said...

Thanks Priyank, glad I brought back those memories, wow that must have been an impressive sight, the Milky Way and Himalayas.\m/\m/

Bob Johnson said...

Thanks a lot Genie and good to hear from you again. The Milky Way is really something isn't it? Glad you like the Backbone of Night, when I first heard it I thought the same as you, great new perspective of our home galaxy.\m/\m/

betchai said...

it is still in my dream to be able to take a very good picture like yours of Milky Way, right now, all I can do is admire your pictures.

kRiZ cPEc said...

thanks for sharing...the photoshopped version made me dizzy.

Ruth said...

Bob, you crack me up.

But first, backbone of night is a fantastic title, and what a term for the Milky Way! Gorgeous.

". . . pray it doesn't break or they all die . . " hahaha.

" . . . braggy Bob . . . " hahaha.

Congratulations on being Editor's choice - I'm glad you told us. You don't have a braggy bone in your body. You're more like my husband - like a boy so proud!

Bob Johnson said...

Thanks betchai, you take some awesome landscape pictures and lots of them, I wish I had more then flat prairie to image during the day,lol.\m/\m/

Bob Johnson said...

Lol kRiZ cPEc, thanks for dropping by.\m/\m/

Bob Johnson said...

Thanks Ruth, glad you like the backbone of night, I just thought it was too cool not to mention.

So happy you like my sense of humor never sure how some people will take it or even get it,lol.

I was pretty happy about being selected as editor's choice, and have received lots of emails because of it asking tons of questions so that was very cool.

Thanks again for dropping by Ruth.\m/\m/

Nature Nut /JJ Loch said...

Bob, you light up our lives with your posts!!! Beautiful shots and congrats for making Editor's Choice. :D

Great Milky Way mythology. :D I believe I heard the Milky Way has been discovered to be longer than was previously thought.

Have a super weekend!!!

Hugs, JJ

Bob Johnson said...

Thanks JJ, very good, you get a gold star,lol. Using better equipment and less assumptions they figure it is about 15% bigger then they did before.\m/\m/

Joy said...

I've always lived in the suburbs or the city, in a neighborhood full of bright lights or on a college campus. I never saw the Milky Way until last year when I spent the Christmas holiday in the UK. We were driving out in the countryside at night, totally dark, and I looked up at the sky and saw all this LIGHT... it was so, so beautiful. I could hardly believe it. I wish everyone could have that experience, but unfortunately a lot of people can not.

roentarre said...

The sky is simply amazing view

I really love the stary sky there.

Will said...

These photos are awesome as always Bob. I had never heard it called the Backbone of the Night. I like that!

It is interesting that we say we "see" the Milky Way. I am no expert, but isn't that all we see when looking up with our eyes? I don't think we can see any stars that are not part of our own galaxy? And what we call the "Milky Way" is really just one of the arms that is most visible from our own speck of terra firma. Or have I just been thinking incorrectly all these years?

And I hope all those casinos are at least forced to use the new lights that have been designed to prevent as much light pollution as possible. There is a neighborhood here that has new streetlights and from the hills above town, it really is a noticeable difference. That neighborhood looks darker from above.

Bob Johnson said...

Hi Joy, you are so right most people never get to see the true Milky Way because of our cities light pollution which is only getting worse. I remember seeing it for the first time, quite remarkable.\m/\m/

Bob Johnson said...

Thanks roentarre, it was amazing to see and then to be able to capture it with an aurora was the icing on the cake.\m/\m/

Bob Johnson said...

Thanks Will,.

You are right when we view the Milky Way we are looking in towards it from one of the arms seeing other stars in the spiral arms closer to the center, in other words the most populated area of our galaxy hence the Milky Way shows up quite nicely, you look into the opposite direction you see hardly anything, only looking through maybe one arm outwards,the Perseus arm less populated with stars.

You are also right, any thing we can see with the naked eye is from our home galaxy with the exception in the northern hemisphere of the Andromeda galaxy from a dark site.

Will, our casinos here get away with murder, our Dakota Dunes Casino was allowed to shine 7 4,000 watt lights into the night sky to form a teepee the Saskatchewan government allows them to probably because they get 37.5% of the profits. The lights have been called "Man made light graffiti".\m/\m/

Lynda Lehmann said...

Very interesting and wonder-filled post, Bob! You can brag all you want--I support you in your right to blow your own horn!

I love the photo and the idea of the M.W. holding up the sky, like the armature of the universe. It's all in the perception. Maybe those Bushmen started the "Chicken Little" myth? lol...

Bob Johnson said...

Lol Lynda, maybe they did.\m/\m/

Max said...

Hey Bob :D!

You know what? Sometimes I wish I could be like the Bushmen and enjoy stuff for just stuff...but my mind is covered by the clouds of information...too much information. Emmanuel Kant used to say that he envied the simple people because they didn't know much and yet they were happy not knowing; whereas the more a philosopher knows and thinks about the more confused he is LOL LOL...well, I wouldn't call us a bunch of confused people, but once we know a lot of stuff we start to worry too much.

Go ahead, Bob...brag all you want, man!! We'll still love you :D!

Lord of the Astropics, these photos are the proof of why you earned this nickname: they are beautiful! You seem to render the skies even more beautiful than what they are.

Have a superb week!


Bob Johnson said...

Thanks Max, too much information doesn't always make for a smarter Bob, usually like you say more confused as the info you gather the more questions you raise until you are confused,lol.

I was really happy about the Editors choice selection, long exposure of our night sky brings out so much beautiful detail, it's kind of addicting to see what the next image will bring.\m/\m/

Dr. Lauren said...

What really amazes me about the galaxy is that everything has a certain place. I went to a planetarium and listened to a retired Nasa man speak about the coordinates of the stars and such. So incredible.

Sher said...

Hi Bob,
You always manage to capture the wonder of the universe and the heavens with your words and pictures!

I share this wonder, too, and when I was kid really wanted to be able to wander the heavens just to see what's exactly up there!

Have a great day,
Sher :0)

Anne Vis said...

Outstanding shots and congrats on being featured!

Bob Johnson said...

I love Planetariums, so sad we don't have any in Saskatchewan. You are right Dr. Lauren, everything has it's place, amazing.\m/\m/

Bob Johnson said...

Thanks Sher for dropping by, I'm hoping for a tour of our universe when I pass on.\m/\m/

Bob Johnson said...

Thanks Anne!\m/\m/

Marvin the Martian said...

beautiful as always.

Bob Johnson said...

Thanks Marvin.\m/\m/

TheFortunes said...

Stunning photos Bob, and indeed the Milky Way and the beauty of the Universe is overwhelming for all - the tribes living in the wild, and for us - high-tech junkies... Great post as always :)

Anna said...

Bob this is very interesting post, and it always amazes me how old is the Milky Way! So you bragging again, lol, well I will tell you then: congratulations on you achievement my friend, lol, there is nothing wrong on letting people know what you have accomplished. BTW my parents never got me the thunderbolt stones, I guess I will have to come back and get them myself, but my husband told me we can find them here where we live, I was so excited, I asked: Where? Where?, he replied: I don't know, here somewhere! So I got de-excited, lol. Bob excellent post, love the twirl! Anna :)

Bob Johnson said...

Hey Tatiana, thanks a lot.\m/\m/

Bob Johnson said...

Thanks Anna, too bad about the thunderbolt stones, but maybe you can find them somewhere there, I don't know where but somewhere,lol.\m/\m/

Anna said...

Okay Bob, I need coordinates, lol. Thanks :). Anna :)

Livingsword said...

Hi Bob!

Wow I love the top photo…ok now I read that others also like it just a bit! LOL

Wonderful quote…when confronted with the splendor of creation I cannot but be a good CSI…Creation Scene Investigator….God’s “finger prints” are there for all who are willing to see…

I have had the opportunity to be I many secluded places with little light pollution and it is amazing how vast the Milky Way is and how dramatic its show can be…night after night…

Another great post Twirling Bob…

Bob Johnson said...

Lol, thanks Livingsword, yes God does great work doesn't he. Whenever I can I head out to the country to take it all in and give thanks.\m/\m/

james said...

Keep bragging, Bob: O) These are fantastic and not only contribute to the development of standing here after all .. I have the imagination of someone or something
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