Friday, September 06, 2013

Milky Way

Visitors to Ocracoke are often amazed when they look up at the night sky, and see numerous constellations, shooting stars, and that swath of stellar real estate we call the Milky Way, the spiral galaxy that includes our solar system.

Ocracoke Island is blessed with very little light pollution, a rarity in our highly developed country. On moonless nights the Milky Way is clearly visible from my front yard in the middle of the village. It is even more spectacular on the beach.

The following stunning photo was taken by Craig Roberts, and was first published last month on his blog, "Lacey And Craig:

Click on the following link to read an excellent recent article, "Let There Be Dark," about Ocracoke's night sky and the value of protecting our nighttime  views:

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is an account of the recent skirmishes islanders have had with North Carolina legislatures over the issue of ferry tolls...and a 1955 newspaper editorial advocating free, state-operated ferries across Hatteras Inlet. You can read it here:


  1. Anonymous7:01 AM

    Just another reason NC Mainlander loves Ocracoke Island. Just try finding any signs of the Milky Way @ Myrtle Beach.

  2. Although occluded by trees... I can see the milky way too here in the mountains and I agree 100% with NC Mainlander... Just another one of many, many reasons to love Ocracoke Island

  3. Anonymous9:21 AM

    We often check a "phases of the moon" Web site in advance of our Ocracoke visits, just to get a sense of what we may be in for during our visits.

    Last month we hit the beach around midnight to enjoy the offshore light show of a thunderstorm that blew out to sea after dousing the island.

    And years ago I recall catching sight of the blazing-est shooting star I ever saw. Not one of those blink-and-you'll-miss-it "Fffts!", this reddish stunner cut a distinct, slow-burn path across Ocracoke's wide-open beach sky, leaving a tail that glowed for two or three seconds the full length of its wake.

    Just one more reason to love Ocracoke.

    As always.

  4. Anonymous9:52 AM

    On a recent NPR report dealing with light pollution in the sky it was revealed that the Nursery Rhyme -- Hey diddle the cat and the fiddle the cow jumped over the moon. the little dog laughed to see such sport, as the dish ran away with the spoon... refers to constellations and objects in the night sky. Riddle me this, Which reference is to the Milky Way? DD

    1. Just a wild guess...without Googling the nursery rhyme: The dish is the full moon, which "runs away with" (or obscures) the Milky Way (the spoon). Am I correct?

  5. Bear MacDonald9:55 AM

    I always go out to the beach late on the night of my arrival to OI, even on cloudy nights. The Milky Way is so dense that I have trouble finding the most recognizable of the constellations. One night not only was I treated to the meteor shower of a lifetime with many meteors as described by Anon 9:21, but the phosphorus was lighting up the surf. WOW, what a treat!

    Philip, today's topic and comments remind me that I have for long been meaning to e-mail you about some essays.

  6. Anonymous1:36 PM

    My first thought when I saw the image smart phones snap a great image.... just visited the original page what a magical evening that photographer had... looking forward to more from that poster

    1. We did get pretty lucky that night. Can't wait to get back out to Ocracoke again soon!

  7. Anonymous3:22 PM

    Please..give us the scoop on your type camera & settings..thanks

    1. Sure. This is taken with Camera: Canon 6D
      Lens: Canon EF 28mm f/1.8 USM
      Exposure: 15 sec
      Aperture: f/2.5
      ISO: 6400
      File format: .CR2, aka "RAW"
      Post-production was done using Adobe Lightroom 5.

      Let me know if I can clarify or expand on any of this for you.



  8. Anonymous11:39 PM

    OK end the suspense --the rhyme was a reminder to farmers the constellations in the sky in April or was it May -- okay cow Taurus the bull cat well that's Leo and the spoon the dipper and need I remind you the Universe is traveling on a plane and well some how or other the MILKY WAY is the plate!!