This is not only about the Big Milky Way Panorama, but it is also a series of astroscape images taken during the trip to Namibia. See the whole collection:
Idea behind the Image
Astrophotography is a very specialized discipline where science meets art. For a good photograph of the night sky, we often need many hours of exposure. To capture as much light from our galaxy as possible I traveled to the distant Namibian desert under the darkest possible night sky. For 3 weeks, every night from sunset to dawn I collected more than 200h of exposure time and over 5000 separate exposures to combine them together into one 2.7 gigapixel panorama of our Galaxy.
Collecting the light in Namibia
To photograph our galaxy, several conditions must be fulfilled. The most important is location. This condition is responsible for the visibility of the Milky Way and for the lowest amount of light pollution. Artificial light makes it impossible to photograph the night sky for 70% of the population. To achieve these two conditions I traveled to Namibia for the darkest night sky on the globe.
200h of exposure
To collect as much light as possible I used 2 of the same H-alpha Canon cameras with 135mm lenses and divided the whole field of view into almost 150 parts. Then I photographed each part several times. Finally, I ended up with almost 5000 separate subexposures for postproduction. It was only a small part of the work needed for the final result.
1500h of experimental postproduction
Collecting the light in Namibia was only the first step. After this, I had to put the puzzles together into one image. First I stacked subexposures using the drizzle technique to increase the resolution and sift the noise. It was the easy part. Next, I had to put everything together. I realized that the problems which I faced do not exist in usual astrophotography. I faced several software bugs and hardware limits. But after 1500h of work I solve it. But I already know that it is not the end of this project.
After spending so much time on this project, I have learned more than I could imagine before challenging myself to do this. I already know that my picture is not perfect and know how to improve it. But it requires a lot more resources and working hours. Now I would like to build a team to work together on this project and make it popular on the whole Earth.
The result of this work
You can buy Signed Fine Art or Poster of the final panorama for your wall.
The Milky Way Core
400 megapixel part of the most dense
and colorful part of our Galaxy