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Heaven's Above

Heaven's Above

The Milky Way arches over the Church of Ireland, Dunlewy, Co. Donegal, on an exceptionally clear night, late-September 2020. This is a composite of 46 individual frames of the sky and one single image for the church. The frames were composed manually for a period of well over an hour (5 or 6 vertical rows and 7 columns with about 50% overlap on adjacent frames). I judged the overlap by looking at the stars in the previous photo on the camera screen. Camera set to B mode with astrotracer and GPS on, ISO 800, fixed WB, f /2.0, manual focus (on a star using Live View).

Photos were initially loaded into Lightroom to adjust lens distortion, chromatic aberration, exposure, colour etc., exported to TIFF files, and then imported into PTGui to create the mosaic. PTGui can automatically find match points between images but a bit of manual help was need for some frames by selecting control points. PTGui automatically selects appropriate seams between overlapping frames and blends any brightness differences (again these can be controlled manually if needed). A stereographic projection was chosen to show the full Milky Way. I added the single frame of the church, taken without the astrotracer, using Photoshop. The final mosaic of the 46 frames is about 30,728 by 21,189 pixels in dimensions; equivalent to a single 651 million pixel image!