A tree seems to bend in a galactic breeze in a July 2010 picture of the central bulge of the Milky Way taken from Australia.
Our solar system lies in one of the galaxy's spiral arms, about halfway from the galactic center. Recent studies show that the Milky Way's dusty heart houses a supermassive black hole.
"The position of the Milky Way in this image—lying horizontally, just above the horizon—gives the sense that it's just beyond arm's reach. Walk to the horizon, and instead of falling off the edge of the Earth, you can step into the rest of the galaxy," said contest judge Mike Simmons, president of Astronomers Without Borders, a TWAN co-founder, and a contributing editor at Sky & Telescope magazine.
"This connection of Earth and sky is actually quite real, if not always so apparent. The Earth is in space, and we are traveling through the galaxy upon it. Giving me a sense of our status as space travelers is what I love about this image," Simmons said via email.