A Swan Flies Over the Dark Rift


 Cygnus flies high during northern summer nights—this space swan stretches a pair of starry wings—as it soars along the galactic plane. The Milky Way’s Local Arm sweeps across Cygnus, but the delicate glow is only revealed under a dark sky.

The Milky Way’s diffuse Local Arm (or Orion Arm) appears to wrap around Cygnus. The Dark Rift (a vast molecular cloud of gas and dust) swallows starlight and stretches along the Local and Sagittarius Arm. Photographing the Dark Rift proved to be difficult because of light pollution. I was able to stack a layered JPEG file and that revealed subtle detail.



My location was dark enough to see the Milk Way, but minor light pollution prevented me from acquiring better exposures—however—I didn’t expect to record much detail. The Milky Way may appear to be nothing more than a smudgy luminescent curtain, but a grand structure floats within the hazy stellar light. I was determined to reveal it.

Local Arm and Dark Rift

The above photograph shows the Dark Rift lounging across the Local Arm. Vega is the bright star toward the frame’s top left corner. The Milky Way culminated toward the zenith when the photograph was taken, so I was able to record a larger swath of the Dark Rift, while keeping light pollution at a minimum. Light pollution is always worse toward the horizon and gradually becomes less sever toward the zenith. Imaging at a later time also ensured less lights would be on.


Published by FlyTrapMan

I have no idea what I'm doing.

7 thoughts on “A Swan Flies Over the Dark Rift

  1. Your seemingly determinant nature shines bright and strong, I do admire that lots. Love your photos and explanations..and in another life I would like to be able to fly with the swan through her domain within the Milky way and report back my findings..! xx

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Visiting the links you shared, I learned that there are 200 billion stars in the Milky Way. That’s an astounding number.

    I enjoyed reading the myths surrounding Cygnus Constellation in regards to Phaeton and Cycnus and may refer back to them someday in my writings.

    There’s always something new to learn from your posts! Thank you.

    I’m curious as to why you chose FlyTrapMan as your blog name when I would have expected you to have chosen a constellation or a celestial body instead? 🌙 ⭐️ 🌟 💫 ✨ ☄ ☀️

    Liked by 1 person

    1. …And that’s not counting all of the stars hiding behind clouds of dust! Haha — some estimates inflate the number to about 400 billion stars. It’s difficult to measure the exact number. The Milky Way might be much larger than we currently think.

      Hmmm…that’s a good question! Because FlyTrapMan is badassssss.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. 400 billion! Wow. There’s gotta be some other form of life out there in space besides earth. It just seems so plausible.

        Your blog name is not only badass, it’s also an eye splinter. I always have to wear safety goggles when I visit your blog, and I highly doubt I’m the only one! 😜

        Liked by 1 person

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