Great Galactic Horse
Can you see the Great Galactic Horse from your observing site? You are lucky if you can answer this question with yes, because this means you have access to excellent dark skies. The Dark Horse Nebula, also known as The Prancing Horse, is a huge dark nebula that obscures part of the brightest regions of the Milky Way. It can only be seen from very dark places. Any amount of light pollution or moonlight will obscure this large region of dust. Haze or other moisture in the atmosphere will also prevent you from seeing the Great Dark Horse in the night sky. If it is visible, it is really big. It stretches across nearly ten degrees in the upper bulge of the Milky Way and resembles the silhouette of a prancing horse as seen from the side. Ten degrees is about the size of your fist with your arm stretched out. Currently, the Great Galactic Horse is visible in the south to the right of the Milky Way's center at astronomical dusk. In this project nightflight image the horse even has a rider. The bright planet Saturn is seen horseback-riding on the nape of the neck of the silhouetted horse. It was shot in June 2017, when Saturn passed through the constellation Ophiuchus, the Serpent Bearer. What makes this image even more special is that it was photographed with a DSLR and a 50mm lens without using any type of tracking device. We used a special technique we developed for untracked astrophotography. The idea is to shoot a lot of similar exposures at very high ISO ratings and keep the single exposures so short that no tracking is needed. In a stacking program the individual frames can then be digitally combined to create a final noise-free picture. If you want to know more about how to shoot untracked astro-images like this, follow this link where you will find a complete PDF tutorial how to do this. [Released September 4, 2017]