Starry Nights - Rajesh Jyothiswaran

Alluring Olaf

I know there are others that have photographed this stunning Norwegian chapel in Cranfills Gap, TX at night but, I do not recall having seen the tell tale green airglow in photos taken here. I have been there three times before this and my fourth visit is special for what I was able to capture in near ideal conditions. This time even the wispy layers of clouds contributed to the intrigue of the scene in contrast to my previous visit when thick clouds blanketed the skies.

After setting up the star trail time lapse, I found this composition and took the first photo. As soon as I looked at the back of the camera I told my friends, “Wow! There is a lot of airglow. I have never seen so much of it here”

It is only at this time of the year the Milky Way aligns vertically with the church spire. For this composition, I had the company of the Larsons in the foreground. I took care to be deliberate and respectful around their resting places. This has to be one of my more satisfying night photo shoots where everything worked like intended and to the unusual airglow was icing on the cake.

Night sky is not actually totally dark like most people think. There is color in the stars and the sky itself has color. Airglow comes from emissions of different colors of light from naturally occurring chemical reactions in the upper reaches of the atmosphere. The green portion of airglow occurs when light from the sun splits apart molecular oxygen into individual oxygen atoms. When the atoms recombine nearly a 100 km up in the sky, they give off the excess energy as photons in the green part of the visible light spectrum, giving the sky a greenish tinge.

Cranfills GapJesusMagicalMilky WayNorwayNorwegianOlafTexasairglowallureastrophotographycemeterychristchristmaschurchcolorcrossfaithfestivegreengreeneryreligionstainedtombstonewindow