Dome of Reflection

It is easy to assume that the deep void of outer space is completely dark, given the massive distances between celestial objects, but with the proper technique the truer count of all these objects becomes visible. Gemini North, one half of the International Gemini Observatory, operated by NSF’s NOIRLab, beholds this ethereal view of the brimming sky. With our naked eyes, we can see about 6000 stars, out of around 200 billion in the Milky Way. And this doesn’t even include the plethora of other astronomical objects!

At the bottom of this image, the dense cloud deck below Gemini North’s position suppresses light pollution from neighboring cities. This blanket facilitates a substantially darker and clearer night, and light from fainter stars can more easily be captured. Appearing like a reflection of the clouds, the Milky Way itself is visible on the Hawaiian horizon. Also at the horizon, a bright band glows from the right half of the image — this is sunlight reflecting off of interplanetary dust, creating zodiacal light. On the opposite side of the horizon shines a splash of backscattered sunlight called the gegenschein.


International Gemini Observatory/NOIRLab/NSF/AURA/J. Chu

About the Image

Release date:March 6, 2024, noon
Size:9711 x 2899 px

About the Object

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