Astrophoto: Stunning Shot by Babak Tafreshi of the Milky Way over Yellowstone

Astrophoto: Stunning Picture of the Milky Way over Mammoth Hot Springs

Astrophoto: Stunning Picture of the Milky Way over Mammoth Hot Springs

Bad Astronomy
The entire universe in blog form
Aug. 12 2013 8:00 AM

The Galaxy and the Supervolcano

There are certain emails I open right away. And I’ve learned that if the sender is astrophotographer Babak Tafreshi, I need to see what he’s sent me right now.

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Phil Plait writes Slate’s Bad Astronomy blog and is an astronomer, public speaker, science evangelizer, and author of Death From the Skies!  

That lesson was driven home recently when Babak sent this ridiculously gorgeous photo he took in Yellowstone National Park:

Yellowstone at Night
Our galaxy looming over the Mammoth hot springs in Yellowstone National Park. Click to cappucinonate.

Photo by BabakTafreshi, used by permission


Yeah, you very much want to click to embiggen that. He took it on July 5, 2013, and it shows Mammoth hot springs in Yellowstone with the Milky Way glowing above it. You can see the pinkly-glowing Lagoon Nebula and the red supergiant Antares above the springs.

I asked him how he took it, and I was astonished when he told me this was a single 25-second exposure! I thought it must be a composite somehow, but the trick was that he briefly illuminated the rocks with a portable studio light, allowing them to be seen. The result from that simple move is this beautiful and compelling shot.

Babak is one of the photographers with the wonderful project called The World at Night, or TWAN. They take pictures of the sky with well-known or stunning foregrounds, to highlight the natural beauty of our planet and the heavens above it. There are several photos at the TWAN site of Yellowstone, including this simply jaw-dropping shot of Old Faithful with the stars of Sagittarius behind it. That one has to be seen to be believed.

I met Babak in person last year at the Arizona Astronomy Expo, but I was already quite familiar with his work; I’ve posted quite a few of his pictures on the blog. I’ve included a list below.

His photography is a perfect match with TWAN, since he travels the globe looking for the best scenery to accentuate the night sky. And his finished products are always incredibly lovely to behold. I am deeply indebted to photographers like Babak, and all the others who send me their work. I have a profound love of astronomical photography, and what they do simply and wonderfully strengthens that feeling.

More of Babak Tafreshi’s work: