The Galactic Center

Mousover for labels. Click on the image for a 50% uncropped version.

The Milky Way center is probably the most interesting region in the whole sky. This area is filled with dozens of first class objects, and many of them are so near that can be imaged together. Any astrophotographer or visual observer would like to have it at zenith: this is possible only in the southern hemisphere. This composite was obtained from the pristine sky of Namibia, under observing conditions that cannot be better except outside our atmosphere.
This image is a huge work both of imaging and processing. It is composed of 7 panes, each of about 1 hour exposure, and is part of a larger mosaic that has yet to be processed. The original image is about 7600x8600 pixels!
Please look at the high resolution image and scroll inside. Here below are a few interesting regions.


This huge comet-like object is starting from the molecular cloud of Corona Australis. The "head" is near the IC 4812 and NGC 6726 blue nebulae, and the "tail" bends toward East and then North.
The upper-right corner of the image shows a bright yellow halo. This is not an image defect! It's the zodiacal light, bright even at more than 90° from the Sun. (Milky Way center was at zenith when the astronomical night was beginning).
The "dark horse" nebula is easily visible: on the left the "pipe" nebula is the rear of the horse, while on the left two legs and the head are visible.
The regions nearby Antares are full of great diffuse nebulae of many colors: red, yellow, orange, blue, brown. Moreover the extension of the front leg of the dark horse is a very long dark nebula that reaches Antares.
The galactic center lies in this field, near the border between the brightest region and the dark band above. On the left M8 and M20 nebulae; on the right M6 and M7 clusters. The tail of Scorpio is home for many bright emission nebulae. From the left the two cat's paws; near the center Zeta Scorpii and IC 4628; on the right Ara  and NGC 6188.

Technical data
Optics Canon lens 50 mm f/1.8 mkII
Focal Length 50 mm
Focal Ratio f/4
Exposure Time 7h10m (single exp of 10 min, mosaic of 7 panes, each pane is 1 h exp)
CCD Canon EOS 5D with Baader filter
Sensitivity 800 ISO
Location Tivoli Farm (Namibia) at 1350 m height
24-25-26-27-28 August 2011
Mount Losmandy G11
Tracking none
Temperature and humidity T= from +3 to +15°C, RH=from 20 to 40%
Sky brightness at zenith (with SQM-L) from 21.5 to 21.9 mag/arcsec^2 (bright because of the Milky Way at zenith!)
Notes This image is a collaborative effort of the Namibia 2011 expedition. Processing: Lorenzo Comolli. Images by: Lorenzo Comolli, Luigi Fontana, Giosuè Ghioldi, Emmanuele Sordini.

HTML Editing and Publishing by Lorenzo Comolli. Email me at
Back to Main Page