View Poll Results: Have you ever seen the Milky Way? (naked eye)
Yup 167 91.26%
Maybe 6 3.28%
No, sadly 10 5.46%
Voters: 183. You may not vote on this poll

Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
  #1  
Old 09-08-2019, 07:25 PM
KarlGauss's Avatar
KarlGauss is offline
Entangled
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2000
Location: Between pole and tropic
Posts: 8,556

Who has seen the Milky Way?


When I was much younger, one of the greatest influences on my life was seeing the night sky and the Milky Way. Closest I ever came to religion.

It saddens me to think that so many people have no idea of the grandeur of a rich and dazzling, seemingly three-dimensional night sky.

Bottom line, have you seen the Milky Way?
  #2  
Old 09-08-2019, 07:28 PM
Fir na tine is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Location: Maine
Posts: 1,209
Just the other night from a campsite in Vermont ( just visiting). Quite frequently at home in Maine.
  #3  
Old 09-08-2019, 07:31 PM
Andy L is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2000
Posts: 6,819
Used to see it when I'd camp out at my uncle's farm in Connecticut.
  #4  
Old 09-08-2019, 07:32 PM
KarlGauss's Avatar
KarlGauss is offline
Entangled
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2000
Location: Between pole and tropic
Posts: 8,556
I hope not only people who've seen the Milky Way will be drawn to this poll!
  #5  
Old 09-08-2019, 07:33 PM
JackieLikesVariety's Avatar
JackieLikesVariety is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jun 2012
Location: Oregon
Posts: 2,629
I have, but it makes me sad it's been so long.
  #6  
Old 09-08-2019, 07:48 PM
Xema is online now
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 2002
Posts: 12,316
Fairly often.

Best was on a Navy ship (routinely darkened at night) during clear nights in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean.

The sky there defies description. It becomes hard to pick out familiar constellations - they are washed out by an astonishingly bright background of stars.
  #7  
Old 09-08-2019, 07:55 PM
EinsteinsHund's Avatar
EinsteinsHund is online now
Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2009
Location: NRW, Germany
Posts: 3,209
Quote:
Originally Posted by JackieLikesVariety View Post
I have, but it makes me sad it's been so long.
This. I only ever saw it in all its glory in 1986 at a camping site at Timmendorfer Strand at the Baltic coast. I think I was a bit drunk and was the last guest at the camping site to still be awake and outside of the tent, and the sky overwhelmed me like never before or after.
__________________
And if my thought-dreams could be seen
They’d probably put my head in a guillotine
  #8  
Old 09-08-2019, 08:17 PM
Velocity is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jun 2014
Posts: 15,776
I don't think I've ever been anywhere rural enough to see it. At least not that I can recall.
  #9  
Old 09-08-2019, 08:18 PM
engineer_comp_geek's Avatar
engineer_comp_geek is online now
Robot Mod in Beta Testing
Moderator
 
Join Date: Mar 2001
Location: Pennsylvania
Posts: 25,488
Nope. Never seen it. Even on the best of nights my eyes just aren't good enough to see it.
  #10  
Old 09-08-2019, 08:28 PM
kopek's Avatar
kopek is offline
born to be shunned
 
Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: Southwestern PA
Posts: 15,688
I saw some great star expanses as a kid but how close they came to fitting what you mean I cannot say; we were certainly rural enough. But now with all the lights and cities and all -------- nothing close in maybe 30 years.

I was a maybe.
  #11  
Old 09-08-2019, 08:39 PM
beowulff's Avatar
beowulff is offline
Member
 
Join Date: May 2001
Location: Scottsdale, more-or-less
Posts: 16,929
I am lucky to own property in an area that has pretty dark skies, so I can see it from our back yard.
However, I grew up in the suburbs of Washington, DC, and I don’t think I saw it until I moved to the Southwest.

Here’s a thread with some recent photos.
  #12  
Old 09-08-2019, 08:46 PM
thorny locust's Avatar
thorny locust is online now
Guest
 
Join Date: Apr 2019
Location: Upstate New York
Posts: 1,457
I can still see it; but not as well as I could when I was a child, and fewer places had outdoor lights left on all night.
  #13  
Old 09-08-2019, 08:47 PM
Chefguy's Avatar
Chefguy is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2003
Location: Portlandia
Posts: 42,810
Saw it all the time growing up in Alaska.
  #14  
Old 09-08-2019, 08:50 PM
KarlGauss's Avatar
KarlGauss is offline
Entangled
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2000
Location: Between pole and tropic
Posts: 8,556
Quote:
Originally Posted by beowulff View Post
I am lucky to own property in an area that has pretty dark skies, so I can see it from our back yard.
However, I grew up in the suburbs of Washington, DC, and I don’t think I saw it until I moved to the Southwest.

Here’s a thread with some recent photos.
Oh wow! Those are great and I am jealous!

I lived in Alberta for a while, in Calgary very close to a provincial park. Just like yours, the nights there were low humidity and often transparent. I could see the Andromeda Galaxy, naked eye, from my back porch. I am seriously thinking of spending some serious time in Arizona in the next years. I will soon have that time.
  #15  
Old 09-08-2019, 09:09 PM
beowulff's Avatar
beowulff is offline
Member
 
Join Date: May 2001
Location: Scottsdale, more-or-less
Posts: 16,929
Quote:
Originally Posted by KarlGauss View Post
Oh wow! Those are great and I am jealous!

I lived in Alberta for a while, in Calgary very close to a provincial park. Just like yours, the nights there were low humidity and often transparent. I could see the Andromeda Galaxy, naked eye, from my back porch. I am seriously thinking of spending some serious time in Arizona in the next years. I will soon have that time.
PM me when you come out, and we’ll take a Stargazing trip.
  #16  
Old 09-08-2019, 09:20 PM
DPRK is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: May 2016
Posts: 4,040
Seen it? I've been there.
  #17  
Old 09-08-2019, 09:36 PM
wolf_meister is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: May 2003
Location: Where the owls say "Whom"
Posts: 5,522
It's been a while but I have seen it in rural Maine. Yes, seeing the Milky Way requires very dark skies.
__________________
www.1728.org
  #18  
Old 09-08-2019, 09:37 PM
Darren Garrison's Avatar
Darren Garrison is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Oct 2016
Posts: 12,007
I would have said "no" until last Saturday, when I was at an undeveloped State Park. It was dim, but I was able to confirm that it was the Milky Way because I have Mobile Observatory on my phone. Having seen it, I realize that I probably have seen it before back when the skies were darker/cleaner where I live, and it was so subtle I mistook it for light clouds. (It is nothing remotely as obvious as beowulf's photos, at least where I live.)
I knew that it was futile to attempt to photograph it with my phone, but I tried anyway. I deleted the actual photo, but here is an approximation of what I got. (That's Jupiter.)
  #19  
Old 09-08-2019, 09:54 PM
Jackknifed Juggernaut is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Lenni Lenape Land
Posts: 5,958
Last summer in Yellowstone. It was quite dazzling.
__________________
"That's right. Even my feet have balls." Stephen Colbert 9/28/10
  #20  
Old 09-08-2019, 10:12 PM
pulykamell is online now
Charter Member
 
Join Date: May 2000
Location: SW Side, Chicago
Posts: 48,190
The first time I really remember seeing the Milky Way was when I was 18 visiting my cousins in Tasmania. Until then, I thought I've seen starry skies, but didn't realize that, no, I had never truly seen starry skies. It was breathtaking. I distinctly remember thinking "Oh, that's why they call it the Milky Way." Plus there was the added bonus of seeing an unfamiliar southern sky with none of the familiar constellations.

What is weird is that we did take a visit to Yellowstone and parts of the West that are known "dark sky" locations when I was 14 or 15, but I guess I didn't have the opportunity to look up at the stars at night, or perhaps it was overcast (though we were away for a good week, so I doubt that.) At any rate, that was the only time I would have been exposed to the possibility of seeing the Milky Way until then.
  #21  
Old 09-08-2019, 10:27 PM
Munch is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 2000
Location: Parts Unknown
Posts: 22,262
I've seen it a few times, most recently on my trip this past Spring to Hawaii. We did the sunrise on Haleakala. After the grueling drive up the volcano at 4:30am, we parked and braced ourselves for the 25 degree weather and high winds. The moment I looked up I almost broke down in tears. It was absolutely gorgeous. Haleakala isn't incredibly high, but it's high enough and dark enough. And on top of all of that, I could see Mercury with my naked eye for the first time (not counting my homemade projection of the transit from a few years ago). Just an unbelievable experience.
  #22  
Old 09-08-2019, 10:29 PM
Trancephalic's Avatar
Trancephalic is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jun 2013
Posts: 1,033
Yeah, I thought it was a southern hemisphere thing, with the northern pointing away except during summer months and only just some of the band.

Also, personally, no.
  #23  
Old 09-08-2019, 10:54 PM
nearwildheaven is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Apr 2013
Posts: 13,146
Yes, I have, and the best viewing was when I was doing rotations on an Indian reservation in 1994. I was 40 miles south of Gallup, NM which was the biggest city of any size within a couple hundred miles, and even in town, it was visible, and it was spectacular.

Last edited by nearwildheaven; 09-08-2019 at 10:55 PM.
  #24  
Old 09-08-2019, 10:59 PM
El_Kabong's Avatar
El_Kabong is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2000
Location: Smack Dab in the Middle
Posts: 15,735
I've seen it in a couple of north American locations that had fairly dark skies (notably central Wyoming), but the best view was from a camp on the shore of Lake Kariba in Zimbabwe.

Last edited by El_Kabong; 09-08-2019 at 10:59 PM.
  #25  
Old 09-08-2019, 11:06 PM
nelliebly is online now
Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2017
Location: Washington
Posts: 1,995
Many times. When I lived in Wyoming, I ran the country roads before the sun came up, often with my face upturned. It was hard to tear my attention from the constellations and the Milky Way. People thought I was nuts for running in the dark, but I loved it and miss it still.
  #26  
Old 09-08-2019, 11:13 PM
kenobi 65's Avatar
kenobi 65 is offline
Corellian Nerfherder
 
Join Date: May 2000
Location: Brookfield, IL
Posts: 16,147
I've only seen it twice: once, while at a remote resort in the mountains of West Virginia, and the other time at a resort outside of Ely, Minnesota.
  #27  
Old 09-09-2019, 03:36 AM
JKellyMap's Avatar
JKellyMap is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: Wisconsin
Posts: 9,849
Quote:
Originally Posted by DPRK View Post
Seen it? I've been there.
Beat me to it. I was going to say “Only every time I open my eyes!”

To prevent the spread of ignorance, I would have entitled this thread “....the outer arm of the Milky Way?”

Anyway, I’m betting even the other person who said “no” (besides engineer c g) has seen it, and those that say they’ve seen it just once or twice have actually seen it more than that. It’s easy to mistake for a diffuse cloud as Darren Garrison mentioned).

Last edited by JKellyMap; 09-09-2019 at 03:39 AM.
  #28  
Old 09-09-2019, 03:57 AM
MrDibble's Avatar
MrDibble is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 2001
Location: Cape Town, South Africa &
Posts: 26,809
Yes, fairly often. I am in the Southern Hemisphere, though, and true dark sky country is only a short car ride away, so it's easier to see the best bits.

Last edited by MrDibble; 09-09-2019 at 03:58 AM.
  #29  
Old 09-09-2019, 04:24 AM
panache45's Avatar
panache45 is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: NE Ohio (the 'burbs)
Posts: 49,601
Best viewing: from Horseshoe Canyon in southern Utah. Also from the tip of a peninsula sticking out into the Atlantic, on Martinique.
  #30  
Old 09-09-2019, 05:54 AM
The Stafford Cripps is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Oct 2001
Posts: 1,391
Quote:
Originally Posted by DPRK View Post
Seen it? I've been there.
That's nothing. I literally am the Milky Way.
  #31  
Old 09-09-2019, 06:36 AM
GuanoLad's Avatar
GuanoLad is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Sep 1999
Location: Where the wild roses grow
Posts: 24,958
I used to have a close friend who built his own 4 inch refractor telescope. Even when we didn't use that to look at Saturn etc, we were staring up at the sky in a fairly low-light location. We also went out a bit to the countryside when we could. It has been a while since then, though.
  #32  
Old 09-09-2019, 06:45 AM
And his buzzer goes ...'s Avatar
And his buzzer goes ... is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Aug 2011
Location: Belgium
Posts: 125
No, sadly.


I was excited when I realised our second week in Schotland would be in a Dark Skies area, but I soon realised that it's not much use in summer. The sky never goes past twilight.
  #33  
Old 09-09-2019, 07:00 AM
mandala's Avatar
mandala is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Sep 2012
Location: Diamond City, Zeta Prime
Posts: 602
I lived in one of the most congested cities on earth. All the people and vehicular movement kicks up so much dust into the sky, you can barely see a few major stars, forget the MW. Now in the US and planning to visit a dark sky site to see the MW for the first time.
  #34  
Old 09-09-2019, 08:19 AM
Ruken is online now
Charter Member
 
Join Date: May 2003
Location: DC
Posts: 7,710
Not for years, and not near DC. But yes, many times.
  #35  
Old 09-09-2019, 08:34 AM
ftg's Avatar
ftg is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Feb 2001
Location: Not the PNW :-(
Posts: 20,754
Barely see any stars here.

Looking for the MW is one of the things I try to do whenever I go visit family in the Intermountain region. But the last several trips have been plagued by clouds and/or haze from fires.

I remember being at a beach at Santa Barbara a while back and noticing this faint cloud that didn't seem to moving. Ooh! I just wasn't expecting to see it in S. Cal with the pollution and lights. But being on the shore and all that helped.
  #36  
Old 09-09-2019, 08:35 AM
JRDelirious is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Aug 1999
Location: Displaced
Posts: 16,042
As late as last June in Vieques -- bioluminescence below me, Milky Way above.
  #37  
Old 09-09-2019, 09:14 AM
Orville mogul is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Apr 2004
Location: Villa Bennius
Posts: 675
Quote:
Originally Posted by beowulff View Post
Here’s a thread with some recent photos.
So glad they are recent. Otherwise I might not have recognized it
  #38  
Old 09-09-2019, 09:27 AM
DaveRaver is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Mar 1999
Location: Great South Bay
Posts: 757
Every visible star is within the Milky Way, so yes I have seen it!
  #39  
Old 09-09-2019, 09:27 AM
Doctor Jackson's Avatar
Doctor Jackson is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 1999
Location: Jawja
Posts: 10,539
Yes, many times. The most memorable was while lying on my back in a grassy field in the mountains of Haiti. Other than our handheld flashlights, which we switched off, not a single source of man-made light for many miles in any direction.
  #40  
Old 09-09-2019, 10:43 AM
Qadgop the Mercotan's Avatar
Qadgop the Mercotan is online now
zymolosely polydactile
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2000
Location: Slithering on the hull
Posts: 27,498
I used to be able to see it regularly from my home, until about 10 years ago. Light pollution has now made it unusual to be able to spot it.
  #41  
Old 09-09-2019, 11:14 AM
Sir T-Cups is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: Orlando, FL
Posts: 8,810
Once that I can really remember.

My extended family has a lake house in northern Wisconsin and my uncle and me went out to a rock island-type thing at night to stargaze. First time I've ever seen a satellite from the ground as well.
__________________
Want to see more of my adventures in Orlando? Follow Mrs. Cups and me @theorlandoduo on Instagram. And check out our blog too: TheOrlandoDuo.com
  #42  
Old 09-09-2019, 11:35 AM
kayaker's Avatar
kayaker is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2009
Location: Rural Western PA
Posts: 33,218
Forty one posts and nobody has said, "I've seen Uranus", or "I prefer Three Musketeers".
  #43  
Old 09-09-2019, 11:43 AM
TriPolar is online now
Guest
 
Join Date: Oct 2007
Location: rhode island
Posts: 41,170
Quote:
Originally Posted by beowulff View Post
I am lucky to own property in an area that has pretty dark skies, so I can see it from our back yard.
However, I grew up in the suburbs of Washington, DC, and I don’t think I saw it until I moved to the Southwest.

Here’s a thread with some recent photos.
I grew up in Bethesda and Rockville in the 1960s.. The Milky Way was clear anywhere that the horizon wasn't blocked by hills and trees. Out in farm country it was amazingly clear. Seeing the stars like that was a highlight of camping out. We had no idea one day it wouldn't be as simple as going outside and looking up. By the time we left in late 1969 light pollution was increasing, I'm not sure when the last time I was able to see it in the northeast.
  #44  
Old 09-09-2019, 12:17 PM
CurtC is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Dec 1999
Location: Texas
Posts: 6,858
I'm astounded that 10% of the people here have polled "no" or "maybe." I would have expected virtually 100% have seen it. To me, it's like asking "who has ever tasted bread?"

You don't even need skies that are that dark if you know where to look. I live in a Dallas suburb and see it frequently.
  #45  
Old 09-09-2019, 01:08 PM
pulykamell is online now
Charter Member
 
Join Date: May 2000
Location: SW Side, Chicago
Posts: 48,190
Quote:
Originally Posted by CurtC View Post
I'm astounded that 10% of the people here have polled "no" or "maybe." I would have expected virtually 100% have seen it. To me, it's like asking "who has ever tasted bread?"

You don't even need skies that are that dark if you know where to look. I live in a Dallas suburb and see it frequently.
I don't know what to tell you. I live in Chicago, and it wasn't until I was 18 until I saw anything that even remotely looked like this. We see individual starts around here. I've never seen those types of shimmering, gaseous fields until I visited my cousins in Australia. Nothing even close to that. Never camping up in the middle of nowhere Wisconsin or even visiting my cousins in a farming village in Poland. Too much light pollution everywhere to see anything like that.
  #46  
Old 09-09-2019, 01:48 PM
JohnGalt's Avatar
JohnGalt is online now
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Med city USA
Posts: 2,247
Lots and lots of times. I grew up in rural South Dakota, where it was easily visible. At our current lake house, a hour north of the Twin Cities, it's dark enough to view. The other great views were at Yosemite, Yellowstone, and while on a backpacking trip at Philmont Scout camp in New Mexico. There, I had to get the scouts to actually look up; they were quite surprised and awe-struck to see it.

A similar question would be for the Northern Lights? Has anyone done a poll on that recently?
  #47  
Old 09-09-2019, 02:57 PM
CookingWithGas's Avatar
CookingWithGas is online now
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Mar 1999
Location: Tysons Corner, VA, USA
Posts: 13,501
Never saw it until I made a trip to Hawaii, Big Island.
  #48  
Old 09-09-2019, 03:31 PM
cutman74 is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: May 2010
Posts: 178
We did a lot of camping when I was a child and into early teens. You can just barely see it from our cabin where we used to go now
My folks and little brother live outside a town of 39 in Colorado about 30mi northwest of Royal Gorge. The first time we spent time up there, My wife was looking at the sky and said,"I wish there weren't so many clouds. I wanted some pictures of the stars." Turns out the "clouds" was the milky way. It was so bright that the stars looked like moonlit clouds. One of my favorite places to be now.
  #49  
Old 09-09-2019, 03:34 PM
zimaane is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Location: washington, dc
Posts: 1,051
I lived in a small city in Africa, near the equator. There were many nights when the electricity was off and I could see the Milky Way quite well. Could also see the Southern Cross fairly often. Awesome stuff!
  #50  
Old 09-09-2019, 03:51 PM
KarlGauss's Avatar
KarlGauss is offline
Entangled
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2000
Location: Between pole and tropic
Posts: 8,556
Quote:
Originally Posted by JohnGalt View Post
A similar question would be for the Northern Lights? Has anyone done a poll on that recently?
When I was in Calgary, the northern lights used to drive me crazy - they'd wash out the Milky Way (and everything else!)
Reply

Bookmarks

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is Off
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -5. The time now is 08:54 PM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2019, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.

Send questions for Cecil Adams to: cecil@straightdope.com

Send comments about this website to: webmaster@straightdope.com

Terms of Use / Privacy Policy

Advertise on the Straight Dope!
(Your direct line to thousands of the smartest, hippest people on the planet, plus a few total dipsticks.)

Copyright © 2019 STM Reader, LLC.

 
Copyright © 2017