Milky Way from Zabriskie Point in Death Valley


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Zabriskie Point is a part of Amargosa Range located east of Death Valley in Death Valley National Park in California, United States, noted for its erosional landscape. It is composed of sediments from Furnace Creek Lake, which dried up 5 million years ago—long before Death Valley came into existence. The hottest air temperature ever recorded in Death Valley was 134 °F (56.7 °C) on July 10, 1913, at Furnace Creek, which is the hottest atmospheric temperature ever recorded on earth.During the heat wave that peaked with that record, five consecutive days reached 129 °F (54 °C) or above. In the night that this panoramic scene was captured above Badlands from Zabriskie point, the air temperature near midnight was 41ºc.

The Arch of Milky Way was high in the Sky in that time of the year, making very difficult to capture this perfect “half of circle” touching the Zenith, where we can see in the top center, a blue bright star with an apparent magnitude of 0,0 called Vega, serving as a middle reference in the magnitude system chart created for the first time in 150 B.C.E, by the greek astronomer Hipparchus. Vega, from Lyra constellation, is forming an asterism well know as the “Summer Triangle” with stars Deneb (from Cygnus) and Altair (from Aquila). At the left side –  in the beginning of the Milky Way – a bright elliptic and diffuse dot is the light coming from Andromeda Galaxy while in the opposite direction of the sky – right edge of the picture – the orange supergiant star of Antares, from Scorpius constellations, is setting below the hot horizon of Death Valley´s landscape. In the center right, and below the arch, is also visible a faint white light known as Gegenschein. It´s a faint brightening of the night sky in the region of the antisolar point. like the zodiacal light, the gegenschein is sunlight scattered by interplanetary dust.

 

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