A lightning storm illuminated the Arizona sky in this stunning skywatcher image of the Milky Way.
Photographer Stephen Ippolito took this image from Bell Rock in Sedona, Arizona on Aug. 9. "I received a lot of help from mother nature for this image," he told Space.com in an email. "As you can see, Bell Rock is illuminated. It is illuminated because there was a massive lightning storm many miles behind me that was illuminating the entire sky, and when the lightning struck, the entire Bell Rock area would be illuminated."
Ippolito lit in the foreground of the image with a color corrected LED light. [See More Stunning Photos of the Milky Way]
The Milky Way galaxy is a barred spiral galaxy with roughly 400 billion stars, including our sun. The stars, along with gas and dust, appear like a band of light in the sky from Earth. The galaxy stretches between 100,000 to 120,000 light-years in diameter. At the center of our galaxy lies a gigantic black hole billions of times the size of the sun.
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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.