DR. SKY BLOG

Summer is best time to view Milky Way galaxy in Arizona skies

Jul 11, 2019, 6:00 PM
(Pixabay Photo)...
(Pixabay Photo)
(Pixabay Photo)

With the summer season well underway, it’s time to search our Arizona skies for one of the most amazing sights in the entire night sky.

Get set for the summer Milky Way!

This vast band of stars and dust is one of the most memorable objects to view, but you have to do a little planning to take advantage of it.

But first a little history on the details of just what the Milky Way really is.

Our galaxy is made up of well over 200 billion stars and vast amounts of dust and gas.

Our star, the Sun, lies some 27,000 light years from the central nucleus. The center of our Milky Way galaxy lies in the constellation of Sagittarius and can be seen on clear moonless nights by looking due south around 10 p.m. local time.

We live in a special part of this vast spiral galaxy, known as the Orion Arm.

The Milky Way is not a standard spiral galaxy, but a rather unique specimen, with a bar type structure on either side of the nucleus.

Here is what the Milky Way might actually look like:

Our Sun may be some 100 light years or more above the galactic plane.

The summer months offer up some of the best views of the Milky Way and I suggest that you search for a clear view of the southern sky and a near-moonless night, as the best of the summer Milky way will simply amaze you, around 10 p.m. local time.

The region that you will be looking at includes the constellations of Scorpius and Sagittarius along with Ophiuchus and Scutum.

In dark skies, you will notice the “haze” of this vast band of light that will stretch from the northeast sky to the south.

Here is an image of the central region of our Milky Way and the objects visible with the naked eye and binoculars:

The best times to view the summer Milky Way will be during the last week of July into early August, as the moon will not interfere.

The central part of the Milky Way is thought to contain a massive black hole. This is known as Sagittarius A and may have a mass of some 4.6 million solar masses.

On a final note, the images that you see of the Milky Way are just of the arms that are within our local region.

We can’t, as of now, get an image of the true shape of our galaxy as we live inside of it and have never seen the true shape from above.

Having said that, there is so much of our galaxy to see in our Arizona skies, and summer is one of the best times to see it.

Sadly, only one third of the population of Earth has ever seen the Milky Way due to light pollution in high populated areas.

Enjoy this most magical sight!

To print your own monthly star chart, click here.

To view satellites/dates/times of passage, click here.

Listen to the Dr. Sky Show on KTAR News 92.3 FM every Saturday morning at 3 a.m.

Dr. Sky Blog

(Pixabay Photo)...
Steve Kates

December opens with crescent moon, followed by meteor showers, more

As November ends we look forward to some of the best in our Arizona skies, as the winter season is just around the corner!
6 days ago
(AP Photo/Ringo H.W. Chiu)...
Steve Kates

Lunar eclipse will give sky watchers something to see early Friday

Observers across North America will get to experience one of the most amazing celestial events - a near total lunar eclipse Friday morning!
13 days ago
(Hubble Space Telescope Photo)...
Steve Kates

Triangulum constellation is small but worth looking for in November skies

The month of November opens up with clear skies, little moonlight and the promise of some really interesting objects to view in our Arizona skies, such as the Triangulum constellation.
20 days ago
The Boomerang Nebula (NASA, ESA and The Hubble Heritage Team-STScI/AURA Photo)...
Steve Kates

Searching the universe for coldest place known to humanity

Where can you find the coldest temperatures in the universe? Hint: It's about 5,000 light years away from Earth!
27 days ago
(Photo by: VW Pics/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)...
STEVE KATES

A look at the Arizona November Sky Tour

With the fall season now in full swing, we look forward to the holidays and there will be many celestial treats for all to explore!
1 month ago
SOFIA soars over the snow-covered Sierra Nevada mountains with its telescope door open during a tes...
Steve Kates

Details about the amazing airborne telescope SOFIA

Flying above most of the atmosphere to capture images of faint celestial objects is one of the great technological achievements of science and so it is with the NASA/SOFIA Science Center’s specially modified 747SP aircraft.
1 month ago

Sponsored Articles

...
Sanderson Ford

Sanderson Ford offers cars and deals for all this holiday season

Sanderson Ford’s No! Vember Black Friday sale is giving an opportunity to purchase a new 2021 vehicle just in time for the holiday season.
...
ENVOQUE MD

Thyroid issues: Here are the warning signs and what to do

In a 100-person office in the United States, an estimated 12 co-workers, employees and loved ones, will likely develop a thyroid condition during their lifetime. That’s because, according to the American Thyroid Association, more than 12% of the U.S. population will experience thyroid issues.
...
PNC Bank

How one organization supports early childhood literacy for the most vulnerable

Nearly two out of every three children in low-income communities don’t own a single children’s book, a fact that ultimately could have profound impacts even before entering kindergarten, according to Arizona nonprofit Southwest Human Development.
Summer is best time to view Milky Way galaxy in Arizona skies