What might appear to some like a flying saucer careening through deep space is actually a photo of a majestic spiral galaxy taken by a veteran astrophotographer.
"We see our Milky Way stretch across the night sky horizon to horizon every summer," Chumack told SPACE.com via email. "Now, if we were to back away from the Milky Way by about 30 million light-years, our Milky Way would look very much as NGC 891 does in this photo." A light-year is the distance light travels in one year, about 6 trillion miles (10 trillion kilometers).
NGC 891, also called Caldwell 23, is located in the constellation Andromeda roughly 30 million light-years away. Both NGC 891 and the Milky Way are considered similar in terms of luminosity and size.
Chumack captured the image over 130 minutes of exposure on Sept. 7 from his observatories at Yellow Springs Research Station in Yellow Springs, Ohio. He used a QHY8 Cooled Color Astronomical CCD Camera and a homemade 16" diameter Fork Mounted Newtonian Scope to take the photo.
To see more amazing night sky photos submitted by SPACE.com readers, visit our astrophotography archive.
Editor's note: If you have an amazing night sky photo you'd like to share for a possible story or image gallery, please contact managing editor Tariq Malik at email@example.com.
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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.