Captured on April 1, 1995 by the Hubble Telescope, the photograph Pillars of Creation is one of the most famous space images ever made. Here’s a crazy fact though: did you know that the “pillars” seen in the photo were already long gone by the time the image was captured? Astronomers have concluded that the pillars — which measure up to 4 light years in length — were destroyed about 6,000 years ago by the shock wave from a supernova. Because of how long it takes light to travel across such vast distances, we can currently see the shock waves approaching the pillars but won’t actually see their destruction for another thousand years or so!
(via Wikipedia via Photographs on the Brain)
Babak Tafreshi of The World at Night created this beautiful time-lapse video of star gazers looking into the heavens while the stars sweep across the night sky. Check out Tafreshi’s beautiful astrophotography here.
NASA photographer Lauren Harnett captured this photograph of the International Space Station passing in front of the moon. What’s amazing is that it didn’t require any fancy astronomy equipment — Harnett was shooting from a parking lot using a Nikon D3S, 600mm lens, 2x teleconverter, heavy duty tripod and sandbag, and a remote shutter release. She shot at 1/1600, f/8, and ISO 2500 in burst mode, and then combined the resulting photographs into this one image.
Space Station Crossing Face of Moon (Thanks Warren!)
Image credit: Photograph by Lauren Harnett/NASA
Astrophotographer Stéphane Guisard captured this time-lapse video showing Comet Lovejoy rising above the Andes mountains like a giant paintbrush stroke across the sky. Guisard shot four different sequences with four different lenses to zoom into the scene.
European Southern Observatory photo ambassador Yuri Beletsky shot a series of epic photos showing astronomers shooting powerful laser beams into the night sky. The photo above showing a laser beam pointed at the center of our galaxy was voted as last year’s Picture of the Year over at Wikipedia.
Photographer Yasuaki Segawa captured this incredible photograph of the Milky Way rising above the ocean, as seen from Taketomi Island, Japan. In addition to the uber-sharp stars, reflections of two bright stars can be seen in the waters. Segawa used a Canon 5D Mark II with a 24mm f/1.4 lens, and composited 5 separate photos to make this image (allowing him to expose the sky and the foreground separately). He also compensated for star rotation to sharpen the sky and prevent star trails. A higher-res version can be found here.
You’ve seen photos of star trails, and time-lapse videos of stars, but how about a combination of the two? Olivier Martel created this beautiful 18-second video using a technique we’ve never seen before: stacking star trail photos into a time-lapse video showing the trails forming.
After capturing roughly 500 photos (25s, f/3.5, ISO1600) from midnight to 5am in Quebec, Canada, he used a popular star trail stacking program called Starstax. In addition to stacking all the images into one, he had the program save the intermediate images at each step. He then turned those images into the stunning video seen above. The finished (and fully stacked) image can be seen here.
Last week the U.S. Department of Energy gave a green light to a project that aims to build the largest digital camera this planet has ever seen. The camera, built by the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory for the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope, will cost around $170 million, be roughly the size of a small car, and be able to capture 3.2-gigapixel photographs using a giant sensor composed of 189 CCD sensors.
Sporting an 8.4-meter-diameter primary mirror, the LSST will be a large, wide-field ground-based telescope designed to provide time-lapse 3-D maps of the universe with unprecedented depth and detail. Of particular interest for cosmology and fundamental physics, these maps can be used to locate the mysterious dark matter [...]
[...] Each night, the LSST will take more than 800 wide-field 15-second exposures, each covering 49 times more sky area than the moon. It will photograph the entire visible sky twice a week. [#]
The lens/telescope will be quite a beast as well — it packs “enough resolving power to distinguish [...] a pair of car headlights seen at a distance of 400 miles.”
(via Stanford via R&D via Rob Galbraith)
Image credits: Photographs by LSST Corporation
Photographer Lincoln Harrison captures jaw-dropping photographs of star trails. Shooting from the Australian outback, he spends up to 15 hours creating each image of the night sky. Shooting with a Nikon D7000, Nikon D3100, and a wide assortment of lenses, Harrison captures a large number of exposures of the foreground and stars separately. He then combines the images (sometimes hundreds of them) into amazing photographs showing the sky dominated by colorful star trails.
Time-lapse photographer Randy Halverson spent three months hunting thunderstorms at night in central South Dakota using a Canon 5D Mark II, Canon 60D, and Canon T2i. Capturing both the storms and the Milky Way in the same shots proved to be a difficult task:
One of the challenges in making this video, was trying to get good storm and star shots. The opportunity doesn’t come along very often, the storm has to be moving the right speed and the lightning can overexpose the long exposures. I had several opportunities this summer to get storm and star shots. In one instance, within a minute of picking up the camera and dolly, 70mph winds hit. One storm was perfect, it came straight towards the setup, then died right before it reached it. [#]
In the end, he captured enough photographs to create this 3-minute-long time-lapse video showing the galaxy floating overhead while storm clouds roll in. Lightning photos are one thing, but seeing storms sweep across the scene at night is incredible.
(via Laughing Squid)