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KingNor
2006-Aug-09, 06:35 AM
Some noob questions:

I can see the Milky Way with no telescope/binoculars right?

I'm in San Jose California, so I CAN see it, right?

So what time of the year does it have to be? what time of night, how dark.. yadda yadda.


Thanks for helping me get a straight answer, so many astronomy sites are technical or all encompasing that I have a lot of trouble sifting through it.

Kaptain K
2006-Aug-09, 07:00 AM
Everything you can see from urban or suburban sites is part of the Milky Way. To see the band of light that we call the "Milky Way", you need to get to a dark site. At this time of year, in the early evening (between nightfall and midnight) the Milky Way stretches from the south-southeastern horizon (Sagittarius and Scorpius) upward through the summer triangle (Altair, Deneb and Vega) to the north-northwestern horizon.

Jens
2006-Aug-09, 07:07 AM
Some noob questions:

I can see the Milky Way with no telescope/binoculars right?



As Kaptain K suggested, you can definitely see it. Though it might be good to explain a bit further. Our solar system is in the milky way, so technically speaking, you are looking at the milky way when you look at the sun. Similarly, ALL the individual stars that can be seen in the sky are part of the milky way, in the sense of the milky way as our galaxy. The only thing (I think) that you can see with the naked eye outside of the milky way is M31 (the Andromeda Galaxy), and you have to have good viewing conditions to see it.

But I think probably what you meant to say is the "milky way" as the band of light that goes across the sky (it's actually looking into the plane of the galaxy). If it's dark enough, you can see it anywhere on earth, at all times of the year, though it's easier to see in some places (namely, looking into the center of the galaxy), which is what you see in the summertime (Northern hemisphere) in the early night.

I may be wrong on some of the details.

Tog
2006-Aug-09, 07:09 AM
Some noob questions:

I can see the Milky Way with no telescope/binoculars right?

Telescope, not really, it's way too big. Binoculars are okay but they still tend to show a collections of stars rather than the actual milky way the way you probably mean. Bare, naked eyes work the best.

I'm in San Jose California, so I CAN see it, right?

Well... The Mikly Way stretches from sort of north to sort of south and it best seen in the summer ans winter when it's high over head in the early part of the evening. You can see it from and position on Earth (more or less). The problem with your area is light pollution. You would need to get out of the city a bit. It will look like a thin cloud under dark skies, and a faint glow under semi-dark ones. under most city skies, it's invisible.

So what time of the year does it have to be? what time of night, how dark.. yadda yadda.

Go outside and look for a large cros shaped directly overhead about 2 hours after sunset. That's Cygnus. The milky way runs pretty much straight through it. If you can't see the full cross, look for a large triangle, (made up of the stars, Vega, Deneb, and Altair) Altair will be the furthest south and Vega will be the furthest west. Deneb is the top of the cross (or the tail of the swan, since that's what Cygnus really is). It's pretty much in the Milky Way. As you get further south, you come to Sagitarius (Sagitarii). The center of the Milky Way is there and it will look the brightest in that area. This will be close to the southern horizon.


Thanks for helping me get a straight answer, so many astronomy sites are technical or all encompasing that I have a lot of trouble sifting through it.

Hopefully this will help you out a bit. I'm not that familiar with the San Jose area, so I'm not sure where you would go for dark skies. A Vegas road trip would work though, if you timed it right and ot out about 1/2 way there.;)

Van Rijn
2006-Aug-09, 07:28 AM
Here's the San Jose light pollution map. For good viewing, you want to get out to the blue or black zone:

http://cleardarksky.com/lp/SanJoseCAlp.html?Mn=astronomy

I'm in the Sacramento area. If I want to see the Milky Way (really see it, not just see little bits) I head up to the hills towards Tahoe or Northern California well above the Bay area. The population really thins down at the top end of the state and the light pollution goes with it.

max8166
2006-Aug-09, 09:10 AM
Here it is: http://antwrp.gsfc.nasa.gov/apod/ap060801.html
But as many of the posts here point out, you have to get away from light polution, so central Africa and Austrailia have low light pollution! Also make sure there is no moon on the night you go looking, oh and no clouds too, they really get in the way as it were.

You can find out when there will be no moon and the location of the Milky Way by entering your location in a Program Like http://sourceforge.net/projects/stellarium . For the cloud thing I guess local TV weather or http://www.weather.com/