Growing up in the country as a kid, one of the things I loved most about Summer when the Sun went down were the green flickering lights that appeared like magic in my backyard. Not only were there stars in the sky, it seemed as if they came to life all around me, turning my world into an enchanted forest. These beautiful creatures are called fireflies, or as we call them in the south, lightning bugs. When is the last time you saw them? Sadly they are becoming a rarity in many places across the planet.
When we contemplate our place in the universe, sometimes it helps to look out into the cosmos and try to wrap our minds around the unimaginable number of planets, stars and galaxies. Astronomers have estimated that there is way over 100 billion planets and stars in the Milky Way alone, and over 100 billion galaxies in the observable universe, all with billions and billions of alien suns and planets. The possibilities are endless and can entertain our imagination for countless hours until our brains almost explode.
There are some hidden places in America most of us never see. If we look for them, we might find that those little dirt roads seemingly leading to nowhere, in fact, lead to some of nature's biggest treasures. If you find one, make sure you bring hiking boots and some camping gear because these places are often hard to get to and can sometimes be very dangerous. For astrophotographer Dave Lane, his treacherous journeys have paid off, and give us a glimpse into an astounding world few have seen. Armed with his camera equipment, he captures stunning sky-scapes of the Milky Way filled with delicate ribbons of colorful sky glow over our national parks.
The Southwest is rich in history and peppered with amazing sites left behind by the indigenous people of the ancient Americas. The heavens were carefully tracked and documented by the natives who once thrived in these sacred lands. Their knowledge was so precise they could predict the very moment of the start of new season. The imprint and legends they left behind were nothing short of remarkable.
It looks more like a scene from a sci-fi movie than an actual scene on Earth. Photographer James Garlick captured this mind blowing photo when he arrived at a beach in Tasmania, Australia on May 18th, 2015. What he saw took his breath away. He stood in awe at the enchanted glowing waves gliding under the billions of stars in the Milky Way. The bright blue waves were indeed a rare and exciting sight and highly sought after by any one who goes there.
As technology progresses we lose the magic of the night. It's a sad reality that many people never look at the stars anymore because they can't see them. They have forgotten there is a night sky at all. We can change this and bring back the awe-inspiring twinkling night that we used to have. We can fight light pollution!
As if Pluto hasn't impressed our socks off already this year, today NASA revealed an amazing discovery. No one could have guessed this distant tiny object would have skies of blue! The first color images of Pluto’s atmospheric hazes, returned by NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft last week, reveal that the hazes are blue.
You may not know him, but if there was ever a kid destin for the stars it is this young man. While other boys his age are playing video games, he is studying the stars, receiving awards for discovering brand new asteroids, and presenting inspiring astronomy lectures to kids all over the world. He is only 14 and hitting the astronomy community by storm.
These aren't your average everyday selfies. Each photo is unique and creative because the photographer captured their own image against the ultimate backdrop, our Milky Way. When one spends so much time under the big open night sky, there is no escaping contemplating the deeper meaning of the universe. Whether we star gaze alone, with friends, or with the one we love, we can't help but feel small and humbled in the grandeur of the cosmos. We come to the understanding we are part of something so incredible and so much larger than ourselves. It was hard picking just one photo from each talented photographer. Please click the link under each name to see more captivating images of our night sky. Thank you to all the photographers who contributed images. The last image is an open invitation for anyone who would like to experience a front row seat to the most amazing show this planet has ever seen. We invite you to go out and enjoy the magic of the night as the Milky Way puts on an unforgettable cosmic show!