Friday, March 23, 2012

VISTA's Galactic Mosaic

On a crisp clear night the sky is magnificent with galactic star display. The Milky Way galaxy is a stunning band of star light dotted colors slashing across the black background of the universe.The galaxy we live in dominates the night. From our vantage point out here on one of the spiral arms we see most of the 50,000 light year wide swirling disk before us.
Here is a side on view of the Milky Way looking toward the spiral center.
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It is sometimes hard to believe that the universe is anything else but that turning wheel of 200 billion stars.
But now turn your gaze 180 degrees and look out of the galaxy into the depths of the expanding universe; one sees very little. Only a few stars that share the this spiral arm with our sun and a very few smudgy spots of light on the pitch black.
Well, if you had a strong enough telescope array and enough endurance like the ESO's VISTA telescope that is located at the Paranal Observatory in the Atacama Desert in northern Chile you would see this.
This is a panoramic photograph of our local galaxy clusters stretching billions of light years into the cosmos. There are more galaxies in this view than stars in the Milky Way galaxy, we just need extra sensitive equipment to capture it.

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This view shows some highlights from the widest deep view of the sky ever taken using infrared light. The observations were made using the European Southern Observatory's VISTA telescope.

1 comment:

  1. The most beautiful view of the stars I have ever seen was atop Mt. Charleston in Las Vegas NV. No City Lights, no smog, no nothing just tons and tons of stars. It was kind of spooky!!