Fine Art Landscape Photography, Milky Way above the Brecon Beacons National Park, Wales, UK
Limited Edition Print *
Milky Way above the Brecon Beacons, Wales
This is a ten second image of the Milky Way, the galaxy that contains our Solar System, as it stretches up above the silhouetted Craig Cwm Sere, the crag that connects the peaks of Pen y Fan and Cribyn, Brecon Beacons.
The brightest star in the image, approximately two thirds of the way up and two thirds to the right of the image, is Vega, an important star with a rich cultural history. It is the fifth brightest star in the night sky and the second brightest star in the northern celestial hemisphere, after Arcturus. Due to its luminosity, Vega was the first star other than the Sun to be photographed. For the Roman Empire, the start of autumn was based upon the hour at which Vega set below the horizon.
Vega was also the northern pole star around 12,000 BC, will be again around AD 13,727, and is the brightest of the successive northern pole stars. Pole stars are visible stars that line up almost exactly with the earth’s axis of rotation. The earth wobbles slightly as it spins, in a 25,770 year cycle known as the ‘precession of the equinoxes’, and therefore the earth’s pole star changes over time as well. Our current pole star is Polaris, also known as the North Star, and is the star which remains in the same place throughout the night as the other stars appear to rotate around it (the apparent celestial rotation being a consequence of the earth’s rotation).
Vega is one of the three bright stars that forms the ‘Summer Triangle’, the other two being Deneb (Cygnus constellation) and Altair (Aquila constellation), all of which are visible in the image. The Summer Triangle is an English term popularized by British astronomer Sir Patrick Moore in the 1950s, although he did not invent the phrase. South Sea Islanders called, and still call it, the ‘navigator's triangle’. They use it to navigate on the open ocean in the Pacific, including reaching Hawaii. Near midnight the Summer Triangle lies virtually overhead at mid-northern latitudes during the summer months.
* Limited Edition Print Number is shown on the front of the print. This image is a Limited Edition Print of 350 for all prints larger than 12"x8".
Location: Brecon Beacons National Park, Wales, UK