Midnight In The Desert — milky way

10 Weird Things You (Probably) Didn't Know About the Milky Way

Posted by K R on

10 Weird Things You (Probably) Didn't Know About the Milky Way

When we look up, every star we see is in the Milky Way, the spiral galaxy we call home. The Milky Way holds every alien planet humans have ever spotted, and the billions more that likely exist in the galaxy. On a dark night, the dense plane of the Milky Way winds like a ribbon across the sky. On a really dark night, in areas free from light pollution, that ribbon becomes so intensely spangled with stars that it’s possible to see the dark, dusty clouds of dust and gas deep in space that blot out their light. Those clouds...

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Our Part of the Milky Way Is Four Times Bigger Than We Thought

Posted by K R on

Our Part of the Milky Way Is Four Times Bigger Than We Thought

Published in the journal Science Advances this week, a new study reported that our surrounding area of stars, gas, and dust—called the Local Arm, Orion Spur, or Orion–Cygnus Arm—is actually about 20,000 light-years long. The immediate implications are that the galaxy is actually a little more symmetrical and regular than scientists previously thought, says one of the study's co-authors, Mark J. Reid of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. Although a better understanding of our galaxy's structure doesn't necessarily mean gravity or other forces acting on us are different from what we expect, it could help us better understand large-scale features...

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Now’s Your Best Chance to See the Milky Way

Posted by K R on

Now’s Your Best Chance to See the Milky Way

In the waning days of summer, sky-watchers can get an amazing view of our home galaxy, the Milky Way, in the evening skies. When viewed away from city lights, it is visible as a faint hazy band stretching from east to west overhead. For those in brightly lit suburbs, binoculars can help spot swarms of faint stars strewn across the Summer Triangle pattern of stars high above our heads this time of the year. The Milky Way actually cuts right across the cross-shaped constellation Cygnus, the swan. Our sun and its family of planets live inside this vast Frisbee-shaped disk...

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Will the Great Attractor Destroy Us?

Posted by K R on

Will the Great Attractor Destroy Us?

Paul Sutter is an astrophysicist at The Ohio State University and the chief scientist at COSI Science Center. Sutter is also host of the podcasts Ask a Spaceman and RealSpace, and the YouTube series COSI Science Now. Somewhere, in the deepest reaches of the cosmos, far from the safe confines of our home galaxy, the Milky Way, lies a monster. Slowly, inevitably, it is pulling. Over the course of billions of years, it draws us and everything near us closer to it. The only force that acts over such immense distance scales and through cosmic periods of time is gravity,...

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80 Percent of Americans Can’t See the Milky Way Anymore

Posted by K R on

80 Percent of Americans Can’t See the Milky Way Anymore

The Milky Way galaxy, that torrent of stars that slashes across a deeply darkened night sky, has been a deep well of inspiration from humanity’s earliest days. The ancient Egyptians saw it as a pool of cow’s milk, while in Hindu mythology the arcing galactic arm was likened to a dolphin swimming through the sky. Countless scientists, philosophers, and artists, including Galileo, Aristotle, and Vincent Van Gogh, have drawn upon the galaxy as their muse. But a new atlas of the night sky across the entire globe shows that more than 80 percent of the planet's land areas—and 99 percent...

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