We humans have always been a curious race, ever looking into the unknown to unlock the secrets of life, the universe, and everything. To discover what hidden things lie outside the immediate scope of our senses, we apply science to arrive at theories and facts. To find meaning that resonates with us, however, we look at these discoveries through the lens of art.
The (literal) biggest mystery we have that we are still learning to understand is space. Its vast seemingly unending reaches are home to hundreds of billions of stars, forming galaxies hundreds of thousands of light years away—long housing just about as many planets as there are stars and all manners of unexplainable phenomena. In a distance, they all weave an intricate tapestry of lights that is visually arresting and awe-inspiring.
Photos with Stars
Being able to capture just a hint of these celestial bodies on camera is a marvelous feat on its own. Thankfully for us, we have our very capable astro-photographers taking trips to the International Space Station, with some help from unmanned shuttles exploring the uncharted areas of space to take a piece of the heavens down to Earth.
With some of the world’s most powerful cameras on board, they are able to snap photos of the spectacular remnants of a dead star gone supernova, the hypnotic spirals of a galaxy far, far away, the uncanny formations of colored gas creeping through the black, and the luminous streak of a comet blazing across the universe.
A Look into Our World
With a more grounded set of camera equipment, these photographers of the stars can also take breath-taking pictures of our favorite planet – Earth. Canadian cosmonaut Chris Hadfield is one such photographer that has shared images of the surface of the shiny blue marble in the sky. Using a 400mm camera, he sets it to manual mode with an f-stop of 16 and an ISO usually calibrated to 200 to account for the unusual light conditions in space.
He also has to work around the speed and trajectory of the ISS, which moves at 24k miles for every hour and a half. Nevertheless, he manages to take astounding pictures of the tops of mountain ranges, clouds hanging above grassy plains, rivers bisecting forests, and peculiar rock formations.
DIY Space Photography
Although we typical citizens of Earth have no access to the ISS or any other hi-tech camera equipment, we can still take a shot at the stars and our own planet with a little ingenuity. MIT students Oliver Yeh and Justin Lee tied a digital camera to a helium balloon, and they were able to snap photos above Earth and a hint of outer space.
It’s a testament to man’s innate desire to know what’s beyond his faculties and to finally be able to reach for the stars, realizing the compelling beauty of the beyond.
Written by Rod Tolentino: Rod Tolentino, work as a writer and a content manager for Camerahouse.com.au