where past meets present

 Sakti galaxy

The night sky appears as decorated by sparkling stars, sometimes also added by moonlight. That is how it seems, at least to bare human eyes.

However, the night sky actually contains deep sky objects (DSO), which are invisible to bare eyes. DSO images revealing the beauty of hidden sky objects can be viewed in Exposure 5th edition (December 2008).

We are now discussing on the same objects, this time with different technique and taste. In the previous discussion, we were presented with only the DSO; now, we are combining the DSO, particularly the Bima Sakti galaxy, with the view existing on earth.

Though most popularly known by the name Milky Way, I prefer to call it Bima Sakti —a name given by Indonesiafirst president, Soekarno, when first observing the galaxy through the telescope at Bosscha Observatorium in Lembang, West Java.

Bima Sakti is known to have spiral arms, moving inwards in circle to its core. Our solar system is only a small part of the galaxy, and is placed at one of the circling arms known as the Orion Arm (Orion Belt).

The galaxy, in which our earth is included in, can be captured at any time during the year, appearing with various formations. The varied formations are results of the earthrotation, which causes the sky objects to seemingly rise and fall; the earth orbits the sun in a 23.45 leaning degree, causing the appearance of the sky objects to divide into two seasons —the core or the arm is visible only at night (seen across the equator line); further to the North, the core is almost invisible to see (we cannot, in fact, see/capture the core from the North Pole). In contrast, Bima Sakti is visible from the South Pole throughout the year.

 visible only

The core of Bima Sakti is generally easy to see or capture, especially between April and September. Starting from October, it will be harder to capture as it is visible only between 7 to 11 pm, with the most obvious appearance between 7 and 9 pm.

The beginning of season is identified by the appearance of the South Cross constellation emerging on the South Pole sky, while Bima Sakti itself is seen left to the constellation.

The galactic arms can be captured using cameras specifically modified for astrophotography which is capable of receiving larger amount of red light waves. The period most suitable for shooting is between October and March.

Astrophotography is relatively easy as we will only have to understand and do basic preparations. The important thing is that we need to understand the geographical location supported by adequate knowledge on photography and astronomy.

One interesting thing we need to keep in mind is that there is a time lap between the actual figure and the point of time at which we are seeing the sky objects; the figure of sun we are seeing in the current time is actually the sun at 8.3 minutes ago, the figure of moon we are seeing is the moon at 1.3 seconds ago. Amazingly, the figure of the Bima Sakti galaxy we are seeing is actually the galaxy at 100.000 years ago.

This is what makes photography unique —we can unite both the past and the present in a single frame. As for the photos presented here, all were taken using a camera I have modified: Versi 9.Astro.

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