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Mount Rainier with the stars of the Milky Way mirrored in the Reflection Lakes

Nighttime Mount Rainier volcano mirrors with the stars of the Milky Way in the Reflection Lakes

Earth Spirit Rising

At moonrise, the nighttime Mount Rainier volcano in Washington mirrors with the stars of the Milky Way in the Reflection Lakes. The Reflection Lakes are getting ever shallower and smaller as aquatic vegetation takes root and mud collects on the lake bed. The Puyallup Tribe of the Native American Indians called this mountain Tahoma or Tacoma, which means the mother of all waters.
With the Milky Way’s starry sky right behind the mountain, it appears as being exhaled from the volcanoes summit. The famous W-shaped Cassiopeia constellation stands out brightly together with the double star clusters, NGC 869 and 884, also called h+Chie Persei, to the top-right of the summit. Both star clusters contain hundreds of stars and are part of the Perseus spiral arm of our galaxy at a distance of 7000 light years. The elongated bright object to the right above the forest is our nearest neighboring galaxy Andromeda, M31. Its disc is twice as wide as our Milky Way and 2.2 million light years away from Earth. The Cygnus constellation with its brightest star Deneb is visible at the top of the image together with the reddish North America Nebula, NGC 7000, consisting of ionized hydrogen.

August 2008
Canon 20D, Canon EF-S 10-22mm, f/3.5, static and dynamic exposure of 4 minutes, ISO 800, tripod, AstroTrac TT320 digital astronomical mount

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