Big Bend Conservancy
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The dates I'll be there are, arrive on the 14th (evening) and leave the 17th (morning). I looked online at the possible moon phases for that time period and it is 2 nights past new moon.
Probably a simple question - Is the Milky Way always present but just unable to always be seen due to conditions? What "moon" phase is the best for seeing the Milky Way?
The sun is in the constellation Sagittarius in December so during November, December and January it is impossible to view the richest part of the Milky Way. October and February are generally impossible, too. The optimum viewing time in the Northern Hemisphere is in the summer when the sun is on the opposite side of the sky....Using a simple tool called a planisphere it is easy to predict when and where to look for the dense part of the Milky Way. But what must also be factored in is the location and phase of the moon. The time of year and the direction of the least light pollution also frame the parameters for getting the best view of the Milky Way. Generally the dense part of the Milky Way is best viewed when it is as high as possible in the Southern sky. Facing south during April and May the pre-dawn hours are best. From June to early August the best time is near midnight, though the Milky Way will be visible almost all night. From Mid August through September the best time is soon after the sun has set and the sky has grown dark.
Every star you can see with the unaided eye is located within the milky way. The only object you can see (without optical aid) in the sky outside of the milky way is the Andromeda Galaxy. Andromeda is over 2.5 million light years from earth; much too far to resolve individual stars without a powerful telescope.But when most people talk about “seeing the milky way”, they are talking about the core of the galaxy. Located in the constellation Sagittarius, this is the brightest part of the milky way. Dust lanes, nebulas, and star clusters are all more concentrated in this area.
When I took my cousin's sons out to Big Bend a couple of years ago, we headed to Alpine for the 4th of July to watch a baseball doubleheader and then the fireworks in the park afterwards. We got back to our campsite in the Basin well after midnight, and when we got out of the car, the older one just said "WHOA". It was his first time seeing the Milky Way. He asked if we could stay up and view it. I told him "NO! It is way past your bedtime!" Then we laughed and stayed up for another hour viewing the sky.
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