Starlight Over the Rockies visible in arm of Milky Way Galaxy

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This was taken from the Forest Canyon overlook on Trail Ridge road in Rocky Mountain National Park. This is the highest through road in the US at over 12,000 feet. The stars look pretty good from up there! There are several nebula visible as small red blotches. The largest and brightest of these is the Lagoon nebula just above center. The galaxy center is the larger bright orangish region just below this. The dark patterns are dark nebula – space dust that blocks light from the stars behind it. A large portion of the total mass of our galaxy is comprised of this kind of dust.

The photo was taken with a modified Canon 450D mounted on the telescope for tracking. The exposures were manually guided. This is 3 exposures stacked totaling about 40 minutes of exposure time at ISO 400 with the Canon 10-22mm lens at 17 mm and f/4. The mountains in the foreground are an overlay from a separate stack of 2 exposures totaling about 20 minutes (the mountains blur on the star shots due to the tracking). There was no moon so the mountains were lit entirely by starlight.

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