Gorgeous Astrophoto: The Milky Way Arcing into Flames

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Aug. 29 2013 10:30 AM

Astrophoto: Flames of the Milky Way

Photographer Florian Breuer—who took the incredible Namibian Quiver Trees photo—has created another breathtaking shot: The Milky Way arcing over Theewaterskloof Dam in South Africa.

Milky Way arcing over Theewaterskloof dam in South Africa.
The Milky Way arcing over Theewaterskloof dam in South Africa. Click to galactinate.

Photo by Florian Breuer, used by permission

[The image is very wide for its height, so you really want to click to embiggen it.]

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The arcing isn’t real; that’s due to the use of a wide-angle lens. The light on the horizon is from clouds illuminated by the nearby towns of Franschhoek and Stellenbosch. And while I am no fan of light pollution, it does provide a pretty dramatic scene, like the Milky Way itself is erupting into flames as it approaches the horizon.

The trees in the lake are haunting. On his page describing how he created this image (a mosaic of 20 separate exposures) he talks about the bleached stumps straining out of the water. It’s worth a read, especially for the close-up photo he took of one of the stumps. It’s actually quite lovely and eerie.

In fact, go look at his (all-too-brief) portfolio on Google+. He’s a gifted photographer, and you’ll be glad you visited.

Phil Plait writes Slate’s Bad Astronomy blog and is an astronomer, public speaker, science evangelizer, and author of Death from the Skies! Follow him on Twitter.