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Looking at the stars

August 10, 2016

It has been a long time. Too long, since I took my camera out and pointed it at the sky. It reminded me why I pursued the passion of astronomical imaging in the first place. I remember the first time my brother-in-law gave me his old Nikon film camera, and the first shot I took of the Andromeda galaxy, back in 2003. When I realized the potential, I never looked back. But it was something else that drew me to observing the night sky. After the sense of wonder that hit me after looking up, seeing all the scores of stars. I felt this wave of sudden relaxation. This sense of familiarity and home. I realized that all of a sudden, there was nothing standing between me and the Milkyway above, our home galaxy. The sound of nature, the familiar constellations, the shooting stars, just felt like a long overdue reconnect with the world. It was mother nature's show, and I was the only viewer. For millions of years, man has been connected and inspired by the universe, by directly observing it. Many great inventions and scientific advances of the 20th century, are a result of being inspired and observing the night sky. 

 

Today, Southeast Ohio and parts of West Virginia are few of the last places in the entire eastern seaboard to get an unobstructed view of the night sky. The advent of artificial lighting, while it has its benefits, sadly has been greatly misused. With electricity becoming so cheap, almost everyone these days can afford a mega-watt flood light in their yard. Also the absence of lighting ordinances and laws in most states, is causing an accelerated disappearance of the night sky. The only state in the U.S. that has lighting laws to my knowledge, is Arizona, home of the IDA (International Dark Sky Association), a non-profit organization that advocates for the protection of the night sky. I have contacted them about learning what can be done in the state of Ohio to combat light pollution, but the only advise I got was to try to form a local chapter and talk to the local government about it. Protecting the night is not only about astronomers. It is about protecting health, species sensitive to lighting conditions, and the night sky. 

 

 Back to the topic at hand, I had been meaning for a few years to take an image of the night sky, and also showing our property for perspective. With some camera trickery and photoshop, I was able to do just that.

 

 

I am also including a view that was aimed to be like the way I saw it with my own eyes. The northern Milkyway in Cygnus the Swan, just above some tree tops, with stars glimmering in between. The sight was very beautiful to behold. 

 

 

 

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