With the bright Moon gone from our evening sky, now is the best time to enjoy viewing the summer Milky Way. As soon as darkness falls, it becomes evident as a wide glowing arch of variety and beauty, stretching across the sky from northeast to southwest.
Unfortunately, because of the tremendous increase in light pollution over the past 40 years, much of our current generation has never seen the night sky in all its grandeur. Never visible from large cities with their lights, smoke and haze, the Milky Way can still be readily viewed from distant suburbs and rural locations. Before the invention of the telescope, the true nature of the Milky Way Galaxy (“Gala” is Greek for milk) was a mystery. Binoculars and telescopes reveal that our galaxy consists of dense clouds of individual stars.
From the Northern Hemisphere, the brightest part of the Milky Way is in the constellation Sagittarius, near the star El Nasl; the “hub” or central condensation of our own galaxy. The Sagittarius Star Cloud, about 30,000 light years distant, seems to be the nucleus, with the Sun and all the outer stars of the outer stars of the galaxy turning at the rate of 155 miles per second, requiring 220 million of our Earthly years to make one complete revolution, or one “cosmic year.”