The arc of the Milky Way glows over Crater Lake in this magnificent panorama.
Night sky photographer Steve Zigler took this shot in late May from a snowy overlook at Crater Lake National Park in Oregon. The Milky Way is beautifully mirrored by the white rim of the lake—a perspective nearly stifled by the weather.
“Some late snow flurries had closed the road to the overlook I had planned to use for my panorama,” Zigler wrote SPACE.com in an email.
“Fortunately, the weather cleared the next morning and the warm sun allowed the park service to open the road to the overlook in the afternoon.”
He captured the image using a Nikon D800E camera, Nikkor 14-24 mm lens, Really Right Stuff tripod, ball head and panorama head with settings at 14 mm, ISO 6400, f/2.8, 20 second exposure, 4000K white balance for each of 11 images.
“In preparation for the shot, I knew that I had a small window of time between astronomical twilight and moonrise. I used a variety of apps to determine that the Milky Way was low in the sky at this time of year during that timeframe,” He said.
Nearby towns produced the glow that appears at each end of the Milky Way’s arc. The cone-shaped tip of Wizard Island can also be seen jutting up near the front-center of the panorama.
Our host galaxy, the Milky Way, is a barred spiral galaxy comprising dust, gas and approximately 400 billion stars. Stretching between 100,000 to 120,000 light-years in diameter, the galaxy appears like a band of light in the sky from Earth.
“I set up my gear and captured the images for the panorama as my fingers went numb,” Zigler said. “Just another evening at Crater Lake.”
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Nina Sen is a freelance writer and producer who covered night sky photography and astronomy for Space.com. She began writing and producing content for Space.com in 2011 with a focus on story and image production, as well as amazing space photos captured by NASA telescopes and other missions. Her work also includes coverage of amazing images by astrophotographers that showcase the night sky's beauty.