This image not only portrays the band of the Milky Way, the planets Jupiter (bright round dot in the Milky Way) and Saturn (brighter spot in a straight line below Jupiter) and the zodiacal light (light pillar stretching from the horizon toward the Milky Way) but also a meteor (the longer straight line) and a brief flare of two satellites (the two tiny parallel lines). Featuring prominently in the foreground is one of the domes of the Daniel Verschatse Observatory in Río Hurtado, Chile, an outstanding observatory that focuses on advanced astrophotography.
The band of the Milky Way stretches nicely across this pre-dawn fisheye view. The noticeable round dot in the Milky Way is the bright planet Jupiter. The light pillar extending from the horizon toward the Milky Way is the zodiacal light. And what appears to be a smudge on the bottom right hand of the image, is in fact the Small Magellanic Cloud (SMC), an irregular dwarf galaxy that can be seen with the naked eye under dark skies in the Southern Hemisphere.
Another morning meant another opportunity to catch the lovely show of the planets. As the moon was quite literally out of the picture, the rather faint glow of the zodiacal light was visible. The zodiacal light is a pillar of light that is visible in the east just before sunrise during fall in the Southern Hemisphere. A few minutes later dawn set in, and Mercury became visible above the mountains.
A creative by-product from my early morning photography.
While chasing the planets in the early morning hours, I was captivated by a continuously rising sea of fog that eventually swallowed everything (including my anticipated view of the rising sun). More pics…
These days the early bird not only catches the worm, but a lovely show of the planets, as they parade along the ecliptic (the apparent path that the sun, moon and planets follow in the Earth’s sky). The next two days the waning crescent moon will cuddle up with Venus and Mercury respectively before doing its disappearing act on new moon. Please be aware that this image was taken in the Southern Hemisphere, where the ecliptic is much steeper at this time of year, which means that the planets Venus and Mercury are higher in the sky and can therefore be more easily spotted.