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pipnina

What does the milky way look like to the naked eye?

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I've seen images of the core of the milky way in 30~ second exposures at high ISOs from digital cameras, but what does it look like to the unaided eye? Is it like DSOs that are grey and dim or bright like the images suggest?

Also, is it ossible to see the outskirts (i.e. opposite the core) with the naked eye? The core doesn;t show itself until 2/3am (and still low even then) and I'm unlikely to be up at that time unless I go out specifically to look for the milky way.

p.s. I'm envyous of those who have seen it, when I don't sleep well and amup at 3~, I often think about how it's there, looming to the side of me, invisible and wishing I could see it.

    ~pip

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From home the way I see it makes the derivation of the name clear.  It's a definite white cloudy band across the sky.  On good nights during the summer it's quite possible to see the band appear to split into two in Cygnus and often it can be traced across most of the sky.

James

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From home the way I see it makes the derivation of the name clear.  It's a definite white cloudy band across the sky.  On good nights during the summer it's quite possible to see the band appear to split into two in Cygnus and often it can be traced across most of the sky.

James

I'd agree with this description. I live in a darkish spot in a light-polluted county, but even so, the MW can be spectacular on occasions, particularly if I go a few hundred yards away from the village I live in.

Chris

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So much depends on your location and how dark your sky is locally. From a real dark sky site the Milky Way is quite unbelievable it's so clear; I first mistook it for annoying cloud when I found my first really dark site. Dark adaption of the eyes after 20 mins or so plays its part if your site isn't so well blessed.

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You lucky people!

Indeed!

I've seen it once, years ago. In France. In the mountains. I need more holidays :)

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Indeed!

I've seen it once, years ago. In France. In the mountains. I need more holidays :)

An interesting comment on the progress of civilisation (ie light pollution)..... I was born and brought up in what was then Essex, now London - East. Walking home from my grandparents' a mile or so from our house, the views of the MW were often pretty good, and probably started my lifelong interest in astronomy!

Chris

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It looks milky. You will certainly never see colour in it (photos can be deceptive in that respect). But at a dark site it shows considerable detail and is easily visible through thin cloud. The "summer" portion that stretches through Cygnus is brightest, the "winter" stretch that passes Orion is fainter, still easily seen at a dark site, but showing less detail. Probably the most striking part, at least from UK, is around the Cygnus Rift, a dark cloud that creates an apparent split in the Milky Way.

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I've only seen it once (from a dark site), almost a year ago, and it was awesome. I remember actually feeling my brain scrambling to find a similar memory to compare this sight to.. and when it couldn't, I just said "whoa".

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Of all the galaxies, on a good night at a really dark site, our own galaxy is the most impressive.  :smiley:

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When at a dark locatrion it is as described a band across the sky, it is also brighter then you may expect.

Cygnus and Casseiopia are almost invisible as the milky way behind them just makes the stars difficult to identify.

Same for Taurus and Lyra.

Seen it under good skies twice, once somewhere in the middle of nowhere in Canada, the other time up the road from where you are just below Yelverton. You really do have a dark sky very little distance from you. When the sky is dark you do not need a scope. Two eyeballs wonking or otherwise are excellent adn a pair of binoculars even better.

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I can't see if from home but when I am at a dark site, I often think there are clouds in the sky when I am not specifically looking straight at it and concentrating on something else. 

It's a band of milkiness across the sky.  I even saw the division in the milky way when i was at the Brecon Beacons once.

Carole 

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I can see it clearly at home but I must say my favourite views are from the Southern Hemisphere, the Magellanic Clouds are quite something.

Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk

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if you go to an isolated and dry place, away from light pollution, the viewing the milky way is one of the most beautiful things nature can offer. 

When I was a child I regularly went to the Alps and I can tell you that I struggled recognising constellations. It was just beautiful. I still remember the first time I saw that. 

Looking forward to go back this August point the TV60 to the Sagittarius.. 

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I'll have to find the darkest place I can get to in ~1 hour. I think dartmoor naional park has a reputation for being dark.

The descriptions you guys have given sounds incredible, though. From my house The orion Nebula through bins or a scope is scarecly visible. Reminds me constantly how bright city skies are.

At least I don't live somehere like London or Seattle. It would take ages to get away from that levl of LP...

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*sigh*

I remember, back in the mid '80s on very good nights from Acton (Further in to London than I am now!) seeing the milky way as a faint cloud that stayed put among the stars. I could also see all the main stars of Ursa Minor.

And to think I gave up astronomy because of the LP :eek: ! It's worse now, even from further out  :mad:

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A sad sign of the times this. I consider myself very lucky to have lived in less light polluted areas. However as a kid the Mw was far more evident but thankfully I can still see it from my back garden on good nights.

Find a nice dark site pipnina and let yours eyes get dark adapted then just look up, you will see it as a soft milky band stretching across the sky. Easier to see when its overheaf in summer especially the Cygnus region.

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*sigh*

I remember, back in the mid '80s on very good nights from Acton (Further in to London than I am now!) seeing the milky way as a faint cloud that stayed put among the stars. I could also see all the main stars of Ursa Minor.

And to think I gave up astronomy because of the LP :eek: ! It's worse now, even from further out  :mad:

Hopefully these LED lamps get put out in more places and businesses and council buildings put more consideration into how much light they're sending upwards instead of downwards where it belongs.

From what I've seen of the LED lamps, they send very little upwards compared to the sodium lamps. But the church a few roads down has an outdoor light that glares in your eyes every time someone walks past it  and it's visible at full brightness from 20 degrees above >:(

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A sad sign of the times this. I consider myself very lucky to have lived in less light polluted areas. However as a kid the Mw was far more evident but thankfully I can still see it from my back garden on good nights.

Find a nice dark site pipnina and let yours eyes get dark adapted then just look up, you will see it as a soft milky band stretching across the sky. Easier to see when its overheaf in summer especially the Cygnus region.

There are a few candidates for dark skies within an hours drive of where I live (dartmoor national park, hope cove, start point). Unfortunately I can't drive so I'm limited to nights where my dad can drive me but he seems to have developed a reasonable interest in astronomy himself thankfully.

The Plymouth Astronomical Society settles for Wembury beach, I've been there a few times and there's not much more to see there than in the more heavily polluted area of my back garden.

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My best view of the Milky Way by far was in Kazakhstan. I was travelling between Almaty and Shymkent for my sister in laws wedding and we stopped to answer natures call. It had been at least 2 hours since we had been in anything larger than a village and maybe 2 hours before we encounted anything also larger than a village. It was moonless and I wondered why the sky was so bright. Then I realised it was the Milky Way! Didn't need a telescope, that's for sure. :smiley:

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Shame Mike73 isn't still about.  I think he's been everywhere that was anywhere around Plymouth.

I'm guessing from the places you list that you're either in Plymouth or Paignton?  I don't think you'd need to go too far to start with if you could just get a bit south of a line between the two.  Any handy car park at a picnic area, monument or anything like that would probably do.

James

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You can see it on any clear, moonless night in the New Forest where I grew up, and that's still the case. The darker the sky is the better - from Exmoor, a couple of years back, it was incredible but the best view I got was from the Atacama desert. Pristine skies with no light for miles - the centre of the Galaxy is mind-blowing down there...

DD

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From my home it is, in the summer months, bright and clear from horizon to horizon and the Great Rift, as it seems to divide between Cygnus and Sagittarius, is a striking naked eye feature. There is absolutely no mistaking it, though people experiencing a dark site for the first time do sometimes mistake the Milky Way for incoming cloud. A very nice thing to do is to re-live one of the greatest astronomical observations in human history simply by looking at it with optical aid - any optical aid - and seeing, as Galileo did, that it is made of stars. I adore the Milky Way, be it naked eye, binoculars or monster Dob. It doesn't look too bad in a camera either. One of Tom's; http://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap120828.html

Olly

Edited by ollypenrice
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It looks milky. You will certainly never see colour in it (photos can be deceptive in that respect).

From a dark sky site I always think the Sagitarius region has a yellowish/golden hue when comapered to the other parts of the Milky Way?

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