Night Sky over the Himalayas

Is this the view of an alien world, an artist’s conception of Neptune? Actually, it’s captured from here on planet Earth.   Photographer: Jeff Dai

Deep in the Himalayas of Tibet, on the border of China and Bhutan, the photographer made a self-portrait among the seracs of a nameless glacier known locally as Number 40. Due to the thin air at this altitude (nearly 17,400 ft or 5,300 m above sea level), even the overexposed moonlight can’t wash out the bright central bulge of our Milky Way. Mars is the reddish object just to the left of the Moon. Note that at this altitude low-level and mid-level clouds are often absent, plus there’s less dust, pollution and other aerosols, so the night sky is much clearer than at sea level. Lack of oxygen affects the brain, making viewing a little blurry at altitude compared to ground level.

Photo taken on October 7, 2016.

Summary Authors: Jeff Dai; Jim Foster

source EPOD