Milky Way and Sagittarius above the Missouri River
This photo was taken from a small gravel bar in the Missouri River, at the end of a 10-day canoe trip on which I had high expectations for astrophotography. But the weather was quite rainy, and every night was cloudy — very unusual for central Montana in August. Disappointing for stargazing, although I did obtain a nice rainbow shot from this period.
On the last night of the trip, the clouds finally parted, and I was able to get this shot of the milky way passing across the southern sky. The brightest area, located just above the horizon, is the bulge of billions of stars surrounding the center of our Milky Way Galaxy. The darker band running diagonally through the milky way is dust concentrated in the plane of the galaxy's disk, obscuring the starlight.
Just to the left of the galactic center is Sagittarius. In European mythology, this constellation was visualized as a centaur shooting an arrow. Personally, I've always had a hard time seeing a centaur. Much easier to visualize is this constellation's nickname, the teapot. You can almost image the Milky Way is steam issuing from its spout.