The Milky Way is the galaxy that contains the Earth; it appears like a band because it is a disk-shaped structure being viewed from inside. There are an estimated 10 billion planets in habitable zones near stars in our galaxy, but it's unlikely we'll have acces to them any time soon.
This was taken at Black Head Point in Gerroa, on the east (Pacific) coast of Australia. The tree is a norfolk pine and the cloud in the lower half of the photograph is a massive storm front which completely obscured the night sky about a minute after I took this photo.
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Canon 10-22mm @ 10mm | f4.5 | 30 sec | ISO3200 | No HDR | Minor Lightroom Tweaks
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