Night Lights and Milky Way

Night Lights and Milky Way

The joy of flying the red-eye is that we get to chase each new star as it rises in the East while racing past the lights that dot the landscape. The chase never ends and the race is always won. But what we don’t always get to see, unless it is very dark, is the Milky Way. Last night, the Milky Way expressed itself so brightly that it looked like a cloud bank we could reach out and touch. In this photograph, a portion of the Milky Way appears high above the horizon to the southeast while the lights of the Panhandle stretch across the dark landscape and reflect off our nose.

And now for the technical…A very slow shutter speed (20 seconds) at an aperture of f/1.8 was required to capture the cloudlike appearance. We were traveling at roughly 8 miles per minute. With a little simple bar napkin math, we can figure out that the lines of light from fixed sources on the ground are each about 3 miles long… fascinating, I know… and now it’s time for bed.

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