Milky Way Meets Meadow in Skywatcher Photo

Milky Way from Shenandoah National Park in Virginia
Astrophotographer Alexis Hengen took this image of the Milky Way from Shenandoah National Park in Virginia on July 24, 2015. (Image credit: Alexis Hengen/

The Milky Way appears to lead a path to the universe from the serene meadow underneath in a sparkling new night-sky photo.

Astrophotographer Alexis Hengen took this image in Shenandoah National Park in Virginia on July 24, 2015.

"This meadow is located at the top of a mountain range, and there were clouds rolling up the southwest face of the mountains," Hengen wrote in an email to "As soon as they would settle over the meadow, they would start to dissipate, so I had a good amount of time with varying amounts of light cloud cover with plenty of Milky Way above. It really was a pleasant night for this as I was able to take my time."

Earth's host galaxy, the Milky Way ,  is a barred spiral galaxy seen as a band of light in the night sky. It stretches between 100,000 and 120,000 light-years in diameter. It is estimated that the galaxy has approximately 400 billion stars. At the center of the galaxy lies a gigantic black hole billions of times the size of the sun.

"As an added bonus, the cloud cover blocked some of the light pollution from the towns at the bottom of the mountains, which helped light the clouds and also brightened the foreground a bit, while leaving the sky above dark enough to get a good shot in," Hengen added.

Hengen used aCanon 6D with a Tokina 16-28mm lens. This particular shot is a panorama consisting of two vertically stacked horizontal shots, each with a 30 second exposure at f/2.8, 16mm, and ISO 3200.

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Contributing Writer and Producer

Nina Sen is a freelance writer and producer who covered night sky photography and astronomy for She began writing and producing content for 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.