The Sciences

Crown of the Dolomites

Bad AstronomyBy Phil PlaitDec 1, 2011 12:00 PM

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[Reminder: I'm doing a live Q&A about asteroids impacts on the TED site at 20:00 UT today!]

Northeastern Italy is a mountainous, difficult terrain. Costazza peak, for example, is over 2000 meters (6600 feet) high, craggy and sharp. That makes it a daunting climb for a hiker... but if you're content to stay near the bottom, it makes an awesomely dramatic frame for astrophotography. Earlier this year Italian astrophotographer Edoardo Brotto ventured to Costazza and, late at night, took a series of pictures that he put together into an amazing mosaic of the sky. He calls it Crown of the Dolomites:

[Click to maggiorenate.] Isn't that breathtaking? He took 14 pictures in total for this mosaic; seven of the mountains themselves and seven of the sky. The Milky Way dominates the view; I love how it appears to arc over the mountains (hence Brotto's title)! That's actually not how it appears in the sky; it's an artifact of taking pictures of the sky -- which looks like a curved dome over our heads -- and mapping it to a small rectangular picture. This sort of mapping confounds people (xkcd recently did a funny comic based on how maps are made), but it's just what happens when you try to make a round peg fit a square hole. The high orange clouds and darkly-lit peaks make this one of the more dramatic pictures of the night sky I've seen in a while. You can see more of his pictures on Wild Visions and 500 px.

Image credit: Edoardo Brotto, used by permission.

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