Film-based Milky Way Panorama Image
(assembled between 1997 and 2000)
By 1996, RAM
prices had dropped low enough to allow the processing of high-resolution digitized
astrophotos on a home PC. My early attempts included contrast stretching
and image stacking, as shown in
. Faced with the limited field of view and grain-limited
resolution of photographs taken on 35 mm film, I decided to venture
further into the field of digital image processing and explore the possibilities
of stitching together several images into a single high-resolution
Three years and 51 wide-angle images later, an All-Sky panorama was completed.
The individual photographs were taken on Kodak PJM-2 and PJ-400 film
with a Minolta SRT-101 or XD-5 camera equipped with a 28 mm lens
and riding piggyback on my Super Polaris DX mount. Exposure times
at f/4 were ranging from 30 to 45 minutes. My observing sites
were places as far apart as California's
and Cederberg Observatory
in South Africa's Western Cape Province. A special
was used to eliminate distortions introduced
by the camera lens. Thanks to
computer processing, the image can be presented in a variety of different
views. Shown here are an Aitoff projection in galactic coordinates (left)
and an equidistant azimuthal (polar) projection (right).
At full resolution (not displayed here for obvious
reasons) the file size is 300 MB.
The image is part of NASA's Multiwavelength Milky
poster (the only contribution from an amateur astronomer!).
Click on the images to view them in full
Confused by the vast number of stars? Can't find the constellations?
Here is a strip centered on the galactic equator with constellation outlines.
Click here to see a
Reality All-Sky Panorama!
(Note: this virtual reality panorama uses rather "old" technology. For the
recent, Flash-based Milky Way Panorama 2.0 click here