Friday, May 30, 2008

Under the Stars

The night skies of the Big Bend country are dark. Thy are very dark. The nearest cities are hundreds of miles away. This area is so dark that the University of Texas has the McDonald Observatory in the nearby Davis Mountains (by nearby I mean 150 miles away).

On dark clear nights you lose count of how many stars you see. The sky is so full of bright stars the constellations are hard to spot.

I often photograph here at night, especially in stretches of cloudless weather or even by the light of the moon.

This image is taken from a small hill looking west some time after dark. The stars are visible across the sky, yet the camera picks up just a hint of orange (not seen with the naked eye) on a lone cloud. The V notch of Santa Elena Canyon can be seen in the image too. You can also see a faint band of light that almost looks like it is coming out of the canyon. That is not an errant flashlight- it is Zodiacal light. This is an astronomical phenomenon that can only be seen in places of dark sky.

And for that-Big Bend is perfect.

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