University of Wisconsin-Madison

Week 30 at the Pole

NSF/I. Rees
NSF/I. Rees

It’s the photographer’s trifecta for wintering at the South Pole—a shot of the sky with a star-studded background, a nice aurora effect, and the Milky Way visible. You can’t beat that. Let’s keep in mind, though, that these three aspects are not really distinct entities. We live within the Milky Way, and most everything that is visible in the night sky is part of the Milky Way, not separate from it. So actually, that visible milky band is only a view into part of the galaxy—concentrations of millions of stars, too faint to make out individually, along with dark patches, or “holes,” from clouds of interstellar dust blocking our view of the stars beyond.