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Published December 15, 2022 | Version v1
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Oregon Coast



Honourable mention in the 2022 IAU OAE Astrophotography Contest, category Still images of celestial patterns:.


This image features the Milky Way, our home galaxy, over Oregon, USA, as seen in July 2021. It is obviously a composite because the stars are not reflected in the water. Still, it is nicely composed to suggest a similarity between the stream of water on Earth and the (mirrored) stream of stars in the sky.

The Milky Way clearly dominates the sky in this image. As a prominent feature in the sky, the Milky Way has been associated with the religions and mythologies of many cultures. The best-known association from Greek folklore “explains” it as a stream of divine milk from the mighty mother goddess Hera, whose husband god Zeus frequently misbehaved (as he did in this case, causing this accident). Greek mythology, on the other hand, considered it to be the path of the souls, while ancient Greek science suggested several scientific explanations, all of which turned out to be false.

The Ojibwe in North America, who live to the east of Oregon where this photograph was taken, also consider the Milky Way a Path for Spirits and a River of Souls. Looking at the foreground of the picture, this belief is even more understandable; it looks as if the rivers of Earth and heaven merge at the horizon.

The prominent feature in the middle of the image is the dark region called the Pipe Nebula in the Milky Way. The smoke of this pipe goes to the right and ends almost at a treetop, where we find the orange star Antares in the heart of the Scorpion.

In the middle of the image, below the Pipe, there is a huge dark area in the Milky Way with two prominent red spots. These spots are hydrogen clouds called the Cat’s Paw and the Lagoon, but in this image they look like the red eyes of great Manitou, the Great Spirit of the Iroquois Native Americans. The constellation of Sagittarius in this area is not recognisable because the image of the Milky Way is highly processed in order to display these dark features that are invisible to the naked eye.

Credit: Marcin Zajac/IAU OAE (CC BY 4.0)


Honourable mention in the 2022 IAU OAE Astrophotography Contest, category Still images of celestial patterns: Oregon Coast, by Marcin Zajac.jpg