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I have seen different pictures in a different community to showcasing the Milky Way. I can never tell whether it's edited or it's the real picture. Actually, I can never see any galaxy as such by with my naked eye. But can the Milky Way be seen with the naked eye? If yes, then I would really like to know when and how this is possible.

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    $\begingroup$ Are you referring to the the white streak across the sky that NuWin and Wayfaring Stranger talks about below, and that looks like this. Then yes, as they say, just go somewhere dark. Or are you referring to images like this? If so, these are fake images made for envisioning the Milky Way. No probe has ever been so far away that it would be able to photograph the Milky Way from "the outside". We will always see the disk from inside (until we invent warp drives). $\endgroup$ – pela May 22 '15 at 22:29
  • $\begingroup$ How and when? By lying down on your back outdoors at night and opening your eyes. But you need to be away from city lights. $\endgroup$ – LocalFluff May 23 '15 at 5:06
  • $\begingroup$ I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because there is no evidence of research $\endgroup$ – andy256 May 23 '15 at 8:06
  • $\begingroup$ @pela Would it look anything close to your first link to the naked eye? I went to a national park on a perfectly clear night in September after the moon went down, saw all the stars, but the Milky Way was extremely faint. $\endgroup$ – pacoverflow Apr 11 '18 at 0:54
  • $\begingroup$ @pacoverflow Not exactly like that, but at really dark places, — like several tens of km from large cities — you can see dark clouds, and different shades of white, yellow, and brownish, at least if you look toward the center, i.e. if you're on the Southern hemisphere (I've never been really dark places on the Northern hemisphere, but the center is more spectacular than the rest). $\endgroup$ – pela Apr 11 '18 at 10:06
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Most photographs you will see of the Milky Way are long exposure photographs (often around 30 seconds exposure, whatever the limit is before star trails become noticeable at their focal distance; sometimes longer if they use a tracking mount) at a very wide aperture. This is done to capture the maximum amount of light and, in fact, capture far more light than your eyes can capture. It also usually takes a little adjusting to colorize the Milky Way the way we expect it to be colored. Note, that this doesn't mean the photos aren't real - if you define photos' realism by representing exactly what people see, then no photo has ever been real.

While you may not be able to see the Milky Way to this degree, you can still go out and see her. As others described, consider your location and time of year, take care to find a dark spot with clear skies and give your eyes enough time in the dark to adjust.

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There are a few nearby galaxies that can be seen with the naked eye, but clear & dark skies are essential. Most notable for northern-hemisphere viewers is the Andromeda Galaxy also known as M31, best viewed in late summer and fall; from the southern hemisphere the Magellanic Clouds, irregular satellites of our own Galaxy, are famous landmarks. These all look like small fuzzy patches, rather unexciting until you consider that they‘re on the order of a million light-years away.

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To see the milky way, you need merely go out at night somewhere where there is a dark, clear sky. In northern hemisphere fall and winter, you'll also be able to see the nearest large galaxy, M31. The large and small Magellanic clouds, visibly grace southern skies. If you live in a city, a cloudy, hazy or very humid region, you're out of luck, unless you can get out into unspoiled countryside. Modern digital cameras are far more sensitive than the human eye.

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In order to see the Milky Way, or the white streak across the night sky, you need to go to a VERY dark place where there is no light pollution whatsoever, and of course the sky has to be clear. So you should go to places like the desert, the woods, the mountains, and some observatories. When you look up, you will see the white streak which is apart of the Orion Arm of the Milky Way where we live ;)

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Yes, we certainly can see the Milky Way from Earth. I saw it through an airplane window at night. But you don't need to do that, either. Find some place with not much pollution, especially light and smoke, and gaze up at night. You should see a beautiful band of stars. Proof? In the 1990's, there was a major electricity blackout in Los Angeles. People looked up and saw it, but many of them thought that aliens were invading or something . . . so they called up 911.

All you need to know is that you can, you should, and hopefully, you will. As for other galaxies, you won't see them in quite the same way, because we're not situated in such a viewpoint. But you can see them, like the Andromeda Galaxy, if you find a dark place without pollution. Go to the countryside!

It's also possible at any time. Because the milky way is shaped like a bulging disc, and we're in a great spot, we can see it at any time; it spans across the whole Celestial Sphere!

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  • $\begingroup$ Welcome to Astronomy @Rohit. I think you get a little carried away in this post. The proof you mention isn't; since it's irrelevant - leave it out. And the Milky Way certainly is not flat. $\endgroup$ – andy256 May 25 '15 at 23:07
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks, @andy256. Also, when I said that it was flat, I meant that it was rather disc-shaped. I didn't mean flat as in FLAT. In addition, I provided evidence of people having seen it to show that it's been done before, that's all. $\endgroup$ – Rohit Nutalapati May 26 '15 at 4:45

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