Out of this world: Surrey man’s night-sky image goes viral
Published Sunday, May 14, 2017 3:21PM PDT
Last Updated Monday, May 15, 2017 12:13PM PDT
If a picture is worth a thousand words, as the saying goes, then the thousand words Christian Sasse put on Twitter Wednesday night have been read by millions.
The Surrey resident and longtime photography enthusiast tweeted the picture in question at English scientist and television host Brian Cox, who took a liking to it and shared it with his more than 2.5 million followers.
“I got shocked when I woke up the next morning and I opened my twitter and it was ringing like crazy,” Sasse told CTV News. “Every second a new tweet was coming in.”
What a unique and beautiful photograph of the night sky! https://t.co/gruqQSt5N3— Brian Cox (@ProfBrianCox) May 11, 2017
The photo in question is actually a series of photos, each one overlaid on top of the previous one to track the passage of stars across the night sky.
Sasse took the pictures that made up the composite on his recent trip to Australia, where he drove to the Australian Astronomical Observatory in a rented camper van for a chance at an unobstructed view of our galaxy.
“You can actually, when you look up into the night sky, you can see the Milky Way, and it’s three-dimensional, I’m not joking,” Sasse said. “It’s so incredibly mind-blowing. It’s an experience.”
He said the clarity of the night sky at the observatory in Australia is superior to what’s typically available in North America, which makes it a destination for scientists from around the world.
Cox himself was at the site only a few weeks before Sasse, which is why the photographer felt inspired to share his work with the TV personality.
With a boost from Cox, Sasse was soon speaking to National Geographic, which published a series of his photo composites, each one showing a different time interval between images.
Sasse took one photo roughly every 30 seconds throughout the night. The image he initially posted shows only pictures taken roughly 50 minutes apart, resulting in clusters of stars that seem to march across the sky.
Choosing to stack images taken a shorter amount of time from each other turns these distinct clusters into blurry lines, which spiral around a central point over the south pole.
Sasse told CTV News he decided to create a composite image after experimenting with a time-lapse video and finding it “boring.” He said the photo he ended up with when he chose 50-minute intervals surprised and delighted him with its beauty.
The reaction to Sasse’s work on social media has been overwhelmingly positive, he said, and he’s looking forward to producing more of it in the future.
“I really want to just produce astro-art,” he said. “All I want people to understand is how beautiful, actually, our planet is. That’s what it’s about.”