12 August 2015

The Milky Way and night sky near Tabuk – Record by Viv Wilson

Viv Wilson has sent me a couple of his excellent night sky photos taken during a trip to the desert near Tabuk. Viv’s photos are shown below and he has given me permission to use them on my website. As I know nothing about the night sky Viv has also sent me details of some of the stars to be seen in the photos for which I thank him very much. The Milky Way shot contains the main constellations of Scorpius, the scorpion which contains the red star Antares, the rival of mars. It is the 15th brightest star. Greek mythology has it that Orion was killed by the scorpion and is still running away from it, in the heavens. Sagittarius, the archer. The Greeks believe the constellation represents both a Centaur and the archer, Crotus, a great marksman. It contains the globular cluster, M22. The lagoon and Omega nebula and Barnards Galaxy. Ophiuchus was one of the 48 constellations recorded by Ptolemy in the second century AD. It is a zodiacal constellation, but not one of the astrological signs. In Greek mythology it represents the healer, Asclepius and translates to "he who holds the serpent". Serpens in ancient Greece, snakes were revered as symbols of rebirth, in part due to how they shed their skin. They were viewed as having poison with both venomous and healing properties. It contains the globular cluster of M5, M16 and the Eagle Nebular and the 'Pillars of Foundation". Scutum is a small summer constellation. It was named by Johannes Hevelius in 1684.It was named after King John III Sobieski of Poland, who led an allied resistance to victory over the invading forces of the Ottoman Empire in 1683. The Wild Duck cluster M11 is located here. Also the planet Saturn is lurking just to the right of the red star, Antares.

The Milky Way is the galaxy that contains our Solar System. Its name "milky" is derived from its appearance as a dim glowing band arching across the night sky whose individual stars cannot be distinguished by the naked eye. The term "Milky Way" is a translation of the Latin via lactea, from the Greek γαλαξίας κύκλος (galaxías kýklos, "milky circle"). From Earth the Milky Way appears as a band because its disk-shaped structure is viewed from within. Galileo Galilei first resolved the band of light into individual stars with his telescope in 1610. Until the early 1920s most astronomers thought that the Milky Way contained all the stars in the Universe. Following the 1920 Great Debate between the astronomers Harlow Shapley and Heber Curtis, observations by Edwin Hubble showed that the Milky Way is just one of many galaxies—now known to be billions.