Our dazzling Milky Way galaxy shines over an old windmill in this stunning panoramic image recently sent in to SPACE.com by an amateur astronomer.
Astrophotographer Sean Parker captured this splendid 14-shot panoramic view of the Milky Way arching over Paulden, Ariz. Parker sent the image, he titled "Ice," to SPACE.com on Dec. 30.
The planet Jupiter, bright star Sirius, constellation Orion and open star cluster the Pleaides can also be seen toward the right in the photo. [See more amazing photos of our Milky Way galaxy]
The Milky Way is a barred spiral galaxy stretching between 100,000 to 120,000 light-years in diameter. It comprises gas, dust and roughly 400 billion stars. The portion of the galaxy we see is the center of the galaxy, as seen from one of its outer arms. A light-year is the distance light travels in one year, or about 6 trillion miles (10 trillion kilometers).
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.