- How to Photograph the Milky Way (in Simple English)
- How to Plan, Shoot, and Edit Photos of the Milky Way
When we look up at the sky and see the blanket of stars above us, all we see with the naked eye is a vast blackness with twinkles of light.
But setup your camera and take a long exposure of the sky, and you can capture the incredible beauty of our home galaxy, the Milky Way.
One of the best tools for photographing the Milky Way is the Hubble Space Telescope and all the other high-tech gear that NASA has at its disposal.
Below are nine impressive photos of the Milky Way that will delight your eye and blow your mind.
As Seen from the International Space Station
Image Credit: NASA/Reid Wiseman
And you thought the Milky Way was impressive from Earth...
Astronaut Reid Wiseman snapped this shot in 2014, which shows the Milky Way framed by the Space Station and the Sahara desert below on Earth.
Using framing as a compositional tool is smart - it helps define the primary subject, drive the viewer's eye toward it, and retain their attention on the subject as well.
Editor's Tip: Turn your photos of the Milky Way into masterpieces worthy of hanging on your wall. Find out how.
Hubble's Up-Close View of the Large Magellanic Cloud
Image credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA
Did you know that the Milky Way has satellite galaxies?
One of them, known as the Large Magellanic Cloud, is shown above in an image taken by the Hubble Space Telescope.
The glowing gas and dust makes it look like a cosmic storm. The ridges and arcs of material are caused in part by intense stellar winds.
Get the scoop on how to photograph the Milky Way in the video above by Nick Page.
Nick gives an overview of the gear you might need as well as the camera settings required to get high-quality Milky Way photos.
The Core of the Milky Way
Image Credit: NASA
Taken in 2009, this image was the first photograph of the center of the Milky Way.
It's actually a composite photo using data from the Hubble Space Telescope and the Spitzer Telescope.
The swirling colors in the shot are actually clouds of dust pockets being penetrated by light.
Light Echoes from V838 Mon
Image Credit: NASA, ESA
V838 Mon was, once upon a time, the brightest star in the Milky Way. Then, in 2002, the star suddenly faded.
According to NASA, this kind of stellar flash and fade had never been seen before.
What you see in the photo above is a light echo that remained after the stellar flash.
Whirring Clouds and Sparkling Stars
Image Credit: ESA/Hubble & NASA: Acknowledgement: Josh Barrington
The large, bright, and colorful plumes in this photo might remind you of an underwater scene.
But these turquoise currents are cosmic dust interspersed between nebulous strands that reach out from the Large Magellanic Cloud.
The Hubble Space Telescope captured this shot, which is part of the Tarantula Nebula.
Editor's Tip: For the best results in your photos of the night sky, use a lens with a large aperture. Before you buy a lens, find out how to save with a bargain lens.
A View of Eta Carinae
Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/N. Smith (Univ. of Colorado at Boulder)
Taken with NASA's Spitzer Telescope, this beautiful photo shows Eta Carinae, one of the most famous massive stars in the Milky Way.
According to NASA, the radiation emitted from this star and other massive stars in the area actually ripped apart clouds of dust and gas.
The result is the formation of new stars in the tattered remains of Eta Carinae's neighborhood.
Peering Into One of the Milky Way's Stellar Clouds
In another image of the Milky Way's satellite galaxy, the Large Magellanic Cloud, you can see beautifully bright stars shining through cosmic haze.
This photo actually shows one of the most robust star formation areas in the Large Magellanic Cloud, and includes three different types of star associations.
A Colorful View of the Large Magellanic Cloud
Image Credit: ESA/NASA/Hubble
In one of the most beautiful Milky Way Photos NASA has taken, we get a colorful glimpse of the Large Magellanic CLoud.
The huge plumes of gas in the cloud very slowly collapse and eventually form new stars.
It's the formation of these stars that give the remaining gas clouds such incredible colors, as shown above.
An Iconic View of the Horsehead Nebula
Image Credit: NASA/ESA/Hubble Heritage Team
Back in 2013, NASA used the Hubble Space Telescope to capture this iconic image of the Horsehead Nebula to mark the 23rd anniversary of the Hubble's launch into space.
The Horsehead Nebula was discovered well over a century ago, but this image offered a new look at it by using Hubble's new high-resolution Wide Field Camera 3, which was installed in 2009.
When viewed in infrared, the Horsehead Nebula takes on an ethereal look (as shown above) that jumps off the screen set in front of the Milky Way in the background.
If you're just starting out in astrophotography and need a few pointers on the gear you need, check out the video above.
In it, AstroBackyard offers a quick rundown of all the necessities for deep space photography.