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SYFY WIRE Bad Astronomy

A Moment of Clarity in the Milky Way

By Phil Plait

There are times in life—perhaps too few, but they exist—when you can try to grasp the Universe, and a piece of understanding settles into your mind like the glow of a billion stars.

This photograph, titled “Moment of Clarity”, by Michael Shainblum is the visualization of that moment. A master of Milky Way and night sky photography, Shainblum took this in Davenport, California during a calm, clear night in 2015. It’s a composite of several exposures (to help reduce the grainy-looking digital noise when capturing faint objects) that reveals the Milky Way, and Shainblum himself silhouetted in the foreground.

Remember, that fuzzy glow you see in the photo is the combined light of many billions of stars, reduced to a milky swath by their terrible distance. Yet for all that space we are a part of the galaxy, created by elements forged and seeded by supernovae within it, living on a planet circling one of the trillion or so stars held by the gravity of all the others.

See? It’s a moment of clarity indeed.

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