Published December 15, 2022 | Version v1
Photo Open

The Milky Way Over Anglers Reach



Winner in the 2022 IAU OAE Astrophotography Contest, category Still images of celestial patterns.


The Milky Way and several astronomical objects are seen in this image taken from the southern hemisphere, in Anglers Reach, Australia, in April 2022.

On the bottom-left side we can identify the constellation Scorpius with its brightest star, Antares, the reddish spot just above the arc. Some prominent but small southern constellations can also be seen: the dominating bright stars in the middle-left of the image in the Milky Way are the four bright stars of Crux (the Southern Cross) and to its left the two pointer stars, alpha and beta Centauri. Crux points towards the southern celestial pole, which is not marked by a bright star, and The pointer stars point towards Crux, distinguishing it from the asterism of the False Cross in the constellation Argo.

Crux features on the national flags of Australia, Brazil, Papua New Guinea, Samoa and New Zealand. As Crux lies in the brightest parts of the Milky Way, the dark cloud of the famous Coalsack Nebula is prominent next to the bright stars. It forms one of the dark constellations in South American, South African and Australian indigenous cultures. The huge Australian dark constellation of the Emu is almost completely above the horizon in this image, stretching from its head in the Coal Sack to the horizon.

In Greek antiquity, the stars of Crux also belonged to the constellation Centaurus, a hybrid creature with a human torso and head attached to a horse body with four legs. The Greek centaur represents Chiron, the wise teacher of all Greek heroes. Its brightest star is Rigil Kentaurus (Alpha Centauri), the front hoof of the centaur. Just below it, we find the small constellation Triangulum Australe. The triple star system of Alpha Centauri is our Sun’s nearest stellar neighbour.

Along the Milky Way in the middle-right of the picture we find the huge constellation Argo, the Ship. The smaller ancient constellation Argo was extended by Dutch navigators around 1600, and the number of stars in this constellation was then so big that the 18th-century French mathematician Lacaille needed to introduce subtitles for Argo in his star catalogue. In doing so, he invented the constellations Puppis, Carina and Vela. In Carina, the Keel of the ship, this reddish photograph clearly displays the Carina Nebula.

At the right edge of the image we can spot the brightest star in the night sky, Sirius, while the second brightest star, Canopus, the rudder of Argo, the Ship, dominates the area under the arch of the Milky Way.

Also below the Milky Way arc, we can see the Large Magellanic Cloud and the Small Magellanic Cloud, which are small satellite galaxies of our own Galaxy.


Credit: Lucy Yunxi Hu/IAU OAE (CC BY 4.0)


Winner in the 2022 IAU OAE Astrophotography Contest, category Still images of celestial patterns: The Milky Way over Anglers Reach, by Lucy Yunxi Hu.jpg