CMU physicist creates digital view of the sky
3,000 images assembled after 26,000-mile trip
MOUNT PLEASANT - A scientist has finished a two-year, 26,000-mile mission to assemble a panoramic photo image of the night sky.
Central Michigan University physicist Axel Mellinger pieced together 3,000 individual photographs to create the image of the night sky, with the Milky Way galaxy at the center.
"The panorama that Axel created is astounding," said Bill Wren, an astronomer at the University of Texas's McDonald Observatory. "There is nothing out there right now that is comparable to it."
The spread of artificial lighting forced Mellinger to trek to "remote areas in South Africa, Texas and the Huron-Manistee National Forest in Michigan to find locations dark enough to capture the images he needed," university spokeswoman Tracy Burton wrote on the school's Web site.
Mellinger developed and scanned the photos, then spent hundreds of hours on the computer creating a high-resolution digital image.
The image is more useful for educational and scientific purposes because it lets viewers zoom in on all elements of the sky at the same time, Burton said.
"The image shows stars 1,000 times fainter than the human eye can even see, and hundreds of galaxies, star clusters and nebulae together all at once," Mellinger said in a statement.
He said he hopes people, "especially children," will gain appreciation of the night sky's beauty.
"Many people unfortunately no longer can see the fainter stars of the night sky because of all of the artificial light pollution."
On the web
Link to video of Axel Mellinger: