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.
This amazing photograph by Ricardo Mohr shows the volcano Puyehue-Cordón Caulle in southern Chile erupting this past June. After being submitted to National Geographic’s My Shot photo community, the photograph was selected as one of the magazine’s “Pictures We Love: Best of October.” You can download a high-res version to use as a wallpaper here.
Chile Ash Cloud (via Boing Boing via Laughing Squid)
Image credit: Photograph by Ricardo Mohr
Night photographer Ben Canales made this image by stacking together roughly 50 different exposures in order to show all of the star trails across the sky. Regarding the color seen in the stars, Canales writes,
The different colors of the star streaks are from the “temperature” of light that the stars burn at. Just like a candle gives and orange light, and a gas stove burns blue- the stars in our sky shine all different sorts of colored light.
A while back, we featured a video tutorial by Canales on how to photograph the night sky. Give that video a look, find a still lake on a clear night, and you can make one of these photographs yourself!
Photographer Mike Rosinski created this amazing image showing light trails from both fireflies and stars by stacking over 370 photos shot over 2 hours from his backyard in Hartland, Michigan. He used a Canon T1i and 15-85mm lens at 15mm with 20 second exposures. The stacking was done with StarStaX, a free program geared towards star trail photography. You can find more about Mike Rosinski’s work (prints, licensing fees, etc) by contacting him here.
Image credit: Photograph by Mike Rosinski and used with permission
A 268-megapixel sensor might suffice for photographing the stars through a telescope, but apparently a sensor many times more powerful is needed for photographing alien planets from space. The European Space Agency has just finished building the largest camera ever to be used in space: a camera over three feet wide with a gigapixel sensor composed of 106 separate CCD sensors. Just to give you an idea of how powerful the camera is: it will be able to measure the width of a strand of hair from over 600 miles away, and the thumbnail of someone standing on the moon.
Astronomy and photography enthusiast Alex Cherney spent 31 hours over six nights shooting photographs of the Milky Way over the Southern Ocean using a Nikon D700 and Nikkor 14-24mm lens. The resulting 2.5 minute time-lapse video was named the overall winner of this year’s STARMUS astro-photography competition.
Inspired by Tor Even Mathisen’s stunning time-lapse of the aurora borealis over Norway, amateur photographer Ágúst Ingvarsson decided to try making his own time-lapse video to show the world what the northern lights look like over Iceland. Using a Canon 7D and Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8 lens, he shot roughly 6,500 still photos between December 2010 and March 2011, using most of the images for this beautiful video.
Shoot a stunning time-lapse video of the Milky Way, and there’s a good chance it’ll go viral. Photographer Randy Halverson used a Canon 60D and Canon T2i with Tokina 11-16, Sigma 20mm F1.8, and Tamron 17-50 lenses to shoot these beautiful images of the night sky over South Dakota.
Shot in RAW format, the Milky Way shots were 30 seconds exposure F2.8 or F1.8 with 2 second interval between shots, for 3-4 hours run time. ISO 1600
Ten seconds of the video is about 2 hours 20 minutes in real time.
Also be sure to check out Terje Sorgjerd’s time-lapse of the Milky Way above Spain if you haven’t already.
(via Laughing Squid)
Amateur astronomy enthusiasts may be content with shooting the stars with a DSLR through a telescope, but what would a consortium of astronomy institutes use for photographing the night sky? The answer is the OmegaCam, a giant 1,700-lb camera found at the heart of the largest telescope designed for visible light surveying: the VST. It uses 32 separate CCD sensors that work together to form a giant 268-megapixel sensor, capturing 30 terabytes worth of photographs every year. The photograph seen above is the first released photo shot with this massive camera.
(via PhysOrg via Engadget)
Update: We’ve posted some photographs of OmegaCAM here.