I was cleaning up my Hard Drive and found this image which I had perhaps shot to be a part of a Milky Way Panorama at the iconic Oxbow Bend in Grand Teton National Park. This frame did not make it to the panorama image. Not having the Milky Way Core competing for attention gives the Mt. Moran and the Cathedral Group their rightful place under the stars. Whatever that sunrise type glow from behind the mountains definitely was special as was the aurora like airglow that permeates the skies over Yellowstone and Grand Teton.
This was quite an adventure for me since I was by myself and not a soul in sight. I say in sight because, I could only see 3 sets of eyes following me back and forth at a distance. What were they? I would imagine they quite possibly were the mama Grizzly and her two cubs that were photographed by another photographer a few days later.
Orion is visible in the northern hemisphere during the winter months early March was the latest reasonable time to image it. A few days ago, the weather changed and there was a narrow window of opportunity to image Orion. From about 8pm to 10 pm we had clear skies before clouds rolled in. The result of that session is this image. I was not planning to do so but by a happy coincidence, I was able to capture not just Orion but three other Nebulae in the picture. The most colorful one of course is Orion. Just above that is the Running Man Nebula named for the Running Man like feature in it.
At the very top of the image is the Flame Nebula, with those veins showing and below that side ways is the Horsehead Nebula. If you look closely, you will see the horse’s head sticking up though in this image, it is hanging towards the 4’O clock direction
Orion Nebula is a place where new stars are being born. The constellation is noticeable for three medium-bright stars in a short, straight row. These stars represent Orion’s Belt. If you look closely, you’ll notice a curved line of stars “hanging” from the three Belt stars. These stars represent Orion’s Sword. Look for the Orion Nebula about midway down in the Sword of Orion.
According to modern astronomers, the Orion Nebula is an enormous cloud of gas and dust, one of many in our Milky Way galaxy. It lies roughly 1,300 light-years from Earth which means the light we are seeing now left Orion 1300 years ago when some major world religions and most countries were not even born.
At some 30 to 40 light-years in diameter, this great big nebulous cocoon is giving birth to perhaps a thousand stars. A young open star cluster, whose stars were born at the same time from a portion of the nebula and are still loosely bound by gravity, can be seen within the nebula. It is sometimes called the Orion Nebula Star Cluster. In 2012, an international team of astronomers suggested this cluster in the Orion Nebula might have a black hole at its heart.
The dark-sky aficionado Stephen James O’Meara described it as: … angel’s breath against a frosted sky. (Source: earthsky.org)
Over the years we had gotten to know Anna Walker through my daughter Nayana being in the same class as CeCe Walker. Anna is loved by everyone in the community for her kindness and volunteering spirit.
The other day, Anna reached out to me and said you need to visit our lake house on Lake Cypress Springs which is about 2 hours east of us. We can see stars clearly and you might be able to shoot there. On a whim, I asked my friend Yogesh if we can go there. If nothing else, we will be able to practice deep sky astrophotography that we have started to dabble in.
The weather forecast was reasonable with 20% sky cover. We drove out to the Walker family’s lake house which is a beautiful log cabin on the lake with its own marina/dock to launch canoes/kayaks etc. By the time we go there it was quite dark and we saw some deer around the area. Our plans to shoot deep sky was shot with thick clouds that were moving. We drove around the area trying to scout for any locations to shoot the Milky Way which was to rise around 3am when the moon would also be setting. Did not find anything interesting and decided the best place is perhaps at the lake house though there were a few lights that we would have preferred not to have including one on a deck we nicknamed, “The Discotheque”
We set up star trails since that was the best option we had and went to catch some sleep. Early in the morning when the Milky Way was to rise, we saw nothing on our cameras or to the naked eye. We could identify Mars and Saturn above two street lights which meant the Milky Way core was there as well. The thin clouds moving through made the stars look diffused and dreamy. After trying to do the best we could, we decided it is time to go home. We went back to pack up when I saw an embroidered wall art that said “Only he who attempts the ridiculous can achieve the impossible” with a star next to it.
It sounded so true, I wanted to take a picture of it with my camera which is when I realized, I had Image Stabilization turned ON on my camera. Any self respecting landscape or astro photographer reading this now would be squirming. The rest of you can continue reading.
A few choice expletives came out under my breath and after I had a chance to calm down, I asked Yogesh, since I realized this and we have not left the place, shall I go and try to shoot this again? Yogesh said, “Sure, I will load up the things in the car”. So I went back to place I had been shooting before under the tall oak trees that were just leafing out and some aquatic plants were sticking out of the water. The Milky Way core had by now moved southward and out of the glare of the two street lights. The clouds were also clearing out. I shot as many pictures as I could trying to do the impossible. This is literally the only direction I could compose this image and a healthy dose of utter ridiculousness made it possible.