Evan and I have found that the best way to meld our interests—astronomy and photography—is through astrophotography. Today I’m presenting the first guest post by my resident astronomer, the other half of Bamboo Shoots Photography. Evan annotates our recent photos of the beautiful night sky with some astronomy facts. We love stargazing when we can, but as you might imagine, it’s hard to do that in Los Angeles. Can you believe how many stars you can see when there are no city lights impeding your view?
The first photo shows the eastern sky from the Angeles National Forest about three and a half hours after sunset. You might notice that some stars are red and some are blue. Although you might think that red stars are red hot, the blue stars are actually hotter than the red stars.
In the second photo, you’re looking directly into our Galaxy. The milky streams are actually billions of distant stars. There are too many stars to see them individually. Instead, they form clouds of light. The Greeks thought these looked like rivers of milk, hence the name of our Galaxy, the Milky Way. The dark patches are “dust” clouds in front of the rivers of stars. Some of the dust is made of the same molecules found in car exhaust, so you can think of those clouds as interstellar pollution. In fact, they are the exhaust of stars that exploded long ago.
This last photo shows the heavens juxtaposed with a more terrestrial object: a tree. Above the tree, you might recognize the Pleiades, a cluster of bright stars. Typically, the Pleiades are described as “the Seven Sisters,” but some people see more than seven stars, some fewer. It depends on how dark the sky is and how good your eyes are. If you look closely at this photo, you can probably count a lot more than seven stars in the Pleiades. The seven or so brightest stars are the biggest ones, but there are many more smaller, fainter stars. The Pleiades is a stellar nursery, where stars are born. Our own Sun was probably born in a cluster like the Pleiades.
We had tons of fun taking these photos. Hope you enjoy them too!