Star Stuff

7 images show how our view of the Milky Way has evolved

PiperCreations via Giphy

Humans have been fascinated with the night sky for as long as recorded history — it’s just in our nature.

But thanks to modern technology — from hand-held cameras to giant space telescopes — we’re able to get a glimpse of what our home galaxy looks like. Still, no two Milky Way photos are the same, and our vision of home constantly changes.

Here are 7 images that capture our changing view of the galaxy:
PiperCreations via Giphy

7. This panorama was created from images taken in 1984 and 1985 at observatories on separate sides of the globe: one in Chile and the other in the Canary Islands.


Even in today’s age of space telescopes, researchers still capture our galaxy by shooting from extremely dark areas of the world.

6. In 1986, telescopes on the ground captured Halley’s Comet with the Milky Way as a stunning backdrop.

5. This is a composite of infrared images of the galaxy taken between 1997 and 2001 — one of the most vibrant captures at the time.

University of Massachusetts and Infrared Processing and Analysis Center

4. NASA released this stunning image from the Spitzer Space Telescope in 2006. Infrared cameras cut through the Milky Way’s dust to capture vibrant colors.

3. Later on, the Spitzer Space Telescope captured a panorama of the Milky Way, which was shared in 2014.

Spitzer Space Telescope

2. In 2018, NASA released this ethereal snapshot of the Milky Way as seen by the Chandra X-Ray Observatory, along with a visualization of the galaxy.

1. And this past week, the Chandra team shared this stunning composite photo of the Milky Way’s center.

PiperCreations via Giphy

Read more stories about astronomy here.

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