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The Great Rift & Dark Horse

I am often asked if you can actually see the Milky Way with the naked eye and the answer is yes. However you can't see it quite the way it looks in my images. The galactic core or central bulge is what is most frequently referred to as "The Milky Way" It appears as a densely packed swath of stars across the night sky.

Located between Earth and the galactic center are two dark structures that all but obscure it from view. The first is a the Great Rift, a dark band of interstellar dust clouds. The second is the Great Dark Horse, a large dark nebula.

These two help to give the Milky Way it's irregular or spilt milk look but they are almost impossible to see with the naked eye. They are the absence of light and look like the rest of the dark sky. In photographs, since there is concentrated light behind them their shape is easily seen.

Unfortunately they are currently slowly slipping from view in the southwestern sky each night just after sunset. They will be back though, in late January, once again rising in the east south east just before dawn.

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