All-Sky Milky Way Panorama 2.0

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by me, Oct 29, 2009.

  1. me

    me Guest

    Physicist Makes New High-Res Panorama of Milky Way
    Cobbling together 3000 individual photographs, a physicist has made a
    new high-resolution panoramic image of the full night sky, with the
    Milky Way galaxy as its centerpiece. Axel Mellinger, a professor at
    Central Michigan University, describes the process of making the
    panorama in the forthcoming issue of Publications of the Astronomical
    Society of the Pacific. An interactive version of the picture can
    viewed on Mellinger’s website:

    “This panorama image shows stars 1000 times fainter than the human eye
    can see, as well as hundreds of galaxies, star clusters and nebulae,”
    Mellinger said. Its high resolution makes the panorama useful for both
    educational and scientific purposes, he says.

    Mellinger spent 22 months and traveled over 26,000 miles to take
    digital photographs at dark sky locations in South Africa, Texas and
    Michigan. After the photographs were taken, “the real work started,”
    Mellinger said.

    Simply cutting and pasting the images together into one big picture
    would not work. Each photograph is a two-dimensional projection of the
    celestial sphere. As such, each one contains distortions, in much the
    same way that flat maps of the round Earth are distorted. In order for
    the images to fit together seamlessly, those distortions had to be
    accounted for. To do that, Mellinger used a mathematical model—and
    hundreds of hours in front of a computer.

    Another problem Mellinger had to deal with was the differing
    background light in each photograph.

    “Due to artificial light pollution, natural air glow, as well as
    sunlight scattered by dust in our solar system, it is virtually
    impossible to take a wide-field astronomical photograph that has a
    perfectly uniform background,” Mellinger said.

    To fix this, Mellinger used data from the Pioneer 10 and 11 space
    probes. The data allowed him to distinguish star light from unwanted
    background light. He could then edit out the varying background light
    in each photograph. That way they would fit together without looking

    The result is an image of our home galaxy that no star-gazer could
    ever see from a single spot on earth. Mellinger plans to make the
    giant 648 megapixel image available to planetariums around the world.
    me, Oct 29, 2009
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  2. me

    Guest Guest

    While impressive spam (go there and buy his books and images), I guess I
    fail to understand the purpose of this kind of exercise today, unless just
    for the personal challenge. Akin to many self-invented Guinness records.

    With so many deep-sky and all-sky surveys already done from land or by
    orbiting vehicles free of the problems caused by our atmosphere, anyone can
    assemble identical images just from publicly available data using readily
    available stitching and projection software. (e.g. USNO-A survey, down to
    magnitude 20, that's ~400,000 times dimmer than the human eye detects in
    dark skies)

    His image is nice, but ... why?

    He either didn't think this through, wanted a challenge, there was some
    financial motive to pay for traveling (see spamming books and posters being
    sold), or ....

    I don't get it. What is it about his image that is different from all
    others done by faster and better means?

    Wait, don't tell me ... this is like the penultimate reason someone
    invented to justify the expensive camera they bought, right?

    Wife: "Oh great, just what you need is another toy. And just WHAT do you
    intend to do with this one mister?! Hmmm??? Answer me! Get right back here!
    Don't walk away from me when I'm talking to you! ... "

    He proceeded to show her, while preventing her from researching all the
    other sky-surveys that are readily available. As long as they were
    traveling in those remote places she couldn't surf the net. Crafty of him,

    Boy, when she finds out is he ever going to be in trouble.

    "WHAT?!? You mean I traipsed through those deserts with you and froze my
    ass off and ... this is the last straw. CALL YOUR LAWYER." <door slam>
    Guest, Oct 29, 2009
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