The Photoptic Sky Survey: A Stitched, 5,000 Megapixel Photograph of the Milky Way

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Last year, Nick Risinger quit his marketing day job in Seattle to look at the stars. The 28-year-old packed a Finger Lakes ML-8300 camera and a Zeiss Sonnar 85mm lens, and mapped out a route that would cover 45,000 miles by air and 15,000 by land. 

The result is his Photoptic Sky Survey, a 5,000 megapixel photograph of the entire night sky created from 37,440 exposures that Risinger stitched together. 
The photo is interactive on Risinger's website, where users can zoom in and out, identify constellations, and experience a 360-degree view of the Milky Way. 

"As light pollution continues to spread in America, these western states contain some of the last havens of true darkness, a shade few of us are any longer familiar with in which the Milky Way alone can cast a soft shadow," he writes. "The click-clack of the shutters opening and closing became a staccato soundtrack for the many nights spent under the stars. Occasionally, the routine would be pierced by a bright meteor or the cry of a jackal, each compelling a feeling of eerie beauty that seemed to hang in the air. It was an experience that will stay with me a lifetime."

See more at SkySurvey.org.

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