“How to spot Milky-Way band in the night sky?” By Saikiran
Summer skies bring glorious views of our own Milky Way galaxy to observers blessed with dark skies in the northern hemisphere. For many city dwellers, their first sight of the Milky Way comes during trips to rural areas – so if you are traveling away from city lights, do yourself a favor and look up at one of the most enchanting sights of our galaxy. Every star you can see with the naked eye belongs to our own Milky Way including the home star Sun. Most of these, are part of a spiral arm that stretches out from the heart of the galaxy.
What is Milky Way?
Milky Way is a galaxy like the other galaxies out there in the universe made of a huge collection of dust, gas, and billions, trillions of stars and their solar systems of which our little solar system is a part.
Everything about the Milky Way band:
We see our cosmic home as a Milky cascade because there are over a billion stars that are too far from us and hence it is faint to make out any individual stars. However, all the billion stars blend together to give us a wondrous arch like a river that stretches across the night sky.
But where should we find the Milky Way band?
To observe the Milky Way band you need clear dark skies with minimal light pollution and enough time for your eyes to adapt to the dark. Photos of the Milky Way band are beautiful, but they show far more detail and colors of the Milky Way than we can see with our naked eyes- that’s the wonderful aspect and deceptive nature of the long exposure photography. For us, the northern hemisphere dwellers, the most prominent portion of the Milky Way band rises in the southeast marked by the constellations Scorpius and Sagittarius.
To find Scorpius look for a pattern of hook-shaped (fish hook) stars with the brightest red star named ‘Antares’ in the southeast. Following the hook-shaped pattern, you will find a tea-pot asterism in the constellation of Sagittarius. Between these two bright prominent constellations you will see a hazy cloudish bright-colored pattern stretching around the sky. This is none other than the “bright Milky Way band” visible to us and the best part is that we are looking at the core of our cosmic home consisting of billions of stars like our Sun and a black hole “Sagittarius A*”.
Here are some tips to keep in mind to watch the Milky Way Band:
- Check for the moon phase. As the Milky Way band is very faint as perceived by the human eyes, plan to observe it during the new moon nights or near the new moon nights.
- Always check for cloud cover. If cloud cover is more than 40 percent we suggest not to venture out into dark areas to find the Milky Way band.
- Always carry a sky chart or you can use apps such as Stellarium mobile, SkySafari, etc. to locate the Milky Way band. But make sure you have covered the screen of your smartphone with red gelatin paper as it will obscure the blue light which damages your night vision.
- Carry binoculars so that you can view some of the most amazing deep-sky objects in the Milky Way band.
Take note, even in dark skies, the Milky Way band is not easily visible until it rises above the horizon. The best view of the Milky Way band you all get is from the months of March until June when it will not be obscured by the horizon. Keeping your eyes adapted to the dark is very important if you want to not only see the haze of the Milky Way, but also the dark lane cutting into that haze. This dark detailed lane is known as the Great Rift, “massive clouds of galactic dust lying between the Earth and the interiors of the Milky Way”.
If you are planning to watch the Milky Way band, do join our upcoming Milky Way special event on 18th March 2023, where we will have some interesting discussions with the experts and our team will guide you to capture the beautiful Milky Way band so that you can share it with your social media community. While you do so don’t forget to tag us!! Hoping to see you all at the upcoming events.