Zooming in on the Milky Way’s center

GigaGalaxy Zoom project images dusty lane and cloud regions

With a simple digital camera attached to a 10-centimeter telescope in Chile’s Atacama Desert, an astrophotographer has produced a stunning image of the center of the Milky Way.

SEEING THE CENTER The European Southern Observatory compiled this panoramic view of the Milky Way’s center. ESO

The portrait, unveiled September 21, was assembled from some 1,200 images taken with the camera across 52 fields of view. The starscape shows a region that spans the sky from (left to right) the constellation Sagittarius to the constellation Scorpius. The central dust lane of the Milky Way runs diagonally across the image and two colorful dust cloud regions, Rho Ophiuchi and Antares, appear to the right.

The mosaic is part of the European Southern Observatory’s GigaGalaxy Zoom project, which released its first image, a human-eye view of the sky, on September 14 (SN Online: 9/14/09). The ESO developed the project, which features this and other images by Stéphane Guisard to celebrate the 400th aniversary of Galileo’s first use of the telescope to view the heavens.

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