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Daily Telescope: A dazzling view of the Milky Way from southern Africa

The Milky Way Galaxy rises over Namibia.
Enlarge / The Milky Way Galaxy rises over Namibia.

Curt Belser

Welcome to the Daily Telescope. There is a little too much darkness in this world and not enough light; a little too much pseudoscience and not enough science. We’ll let other publications offer you a daily horoscope. At Ars Technica, we’re going to take a different route, finding inspiration from very real images of a universe that is filled with stars and wonder.

Good morning. It is November 1, and today’s photo brings us inspiration from southern Namibia. Perhaps the most iconic tree in the southern region of Africa is the quiver tree—so named because its tubular branches can be fashioned into a carrier for arrows.

Curt Belser took this image of the Milky Way Galaxy rising over a quiver tree in May as part of a photography tour of Namibia. The Moon had already set, so that enhanced the darkness of the skies locally. This remote part of Africa already boasts some of the darkest skies in the world.

The tour group had scouted this location during the afternoon and then returned after sunset to set up equipment. This involved moving around carefully in the dark, dodging sharp boulders and other hazards. Belser captured several 15-second exposures before beginning a 30-minute exposure to bring out star trails.

“I finally had 30 minutes or so to admire the spectacular view,” he told Ars. “It was much better than the dark skies where I’ve photographed the Milky Way in Arches National Park. You can appreciate how people in ancient times built their mythologies around what they saw in the much darker night sky.”

You can visit his site below to see a photo with star trails, as well as the location during the daylight hours.

Source: Curt Belser.

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