Astrophotography III

Psalm 19:1 says that the heavens declare God’s glory. What better way to demonstrate this than through images and time-lapse videos of astronomical objects? I began to do astrophotography only a few years ago since I joined the staff at Answers in Genesis nearly a decade ago. Last December, I published The Heavens: A Different View, in which I shared some of my astrophotos, as well as the work of two amateur astronomers who are creationists.

Shortly before the book came out, I blogged twice about astrophotography. In the first blog, I showed some of my astrophotos that were not in the then upcoming book. In the second blog, I shared some time-lapse videos that I had created from hundreds of photographs that I had taken over a few hours on several nights. It’s a shame you can’t put time-lapse videos in books.

I continue experimenting with astrophotography, especially with time-lapse videos. Here I will share some time-lapse videos I made on my Grand Canyon raft trip this June. Answer in Genesis works in conjunction with Canyon Ministries to provide these raft trips. My favorite subject for astrophotography on these raft trips is the Milky Way. I don’t use a telescope. Instead, I mount my camera on a tripod and use a wide-angle lens. Last year, I purchased a Nikon D5600 camera. This camera is programmable, so I can go to sleep while the camera works taking images. Previously, I had to manually operate a camera, which kept me awake until late hours. This newer camera definitely was a good investment.

My favorite subject for astrophotography on these raft trips is the Milky Way.

I particularly enjoy capturing the Milky Way as it slides through the downriver gap in the canyon. This is best done early in the trip when the Colorado River makes its way southward through Marble Canyon, the upper part of Grand Canyon. I made this first video from 797 photographs I took the night of June 20–21, when we spent the night at North Canyon Campsite. The time spans 6 ½ hours. Midway through the video, the sky brightens as the third quarter moon rises. A bit later, direct light of the moon creeps down the canyon wall. The video ends in dawn.

Video 1: Looking south from North Canyon Campsite June 20–21, 2022.

The next night, we camped at Upper Saddle Campsite. I made the second video from 673 photographs spanning 5 ½ hours. This video has some clouds. Late in the video, the clouds are illuminated by the thick waning crescent moon that had risen.

Video 2: Looking south from Upper Saddle Campsite June 21–22, 2022.

The following evening, we camped at Upper Tanner Campsite. This is the best campsite inside Grand Canyon to do astronomy. The inner gorge is at its widest there, providing a large view of the sky. When John Wesley Powell entered this part of the canyon during on his 1869 expedition, the expanse he saw inspired him to name this Grand Canyon. I made this third video from 622 photographs I took spanning five hours, ending shortly before dawn. If you look carefully, you may see a faint reddish dot on the rim near the center. That is the Desert View Watchtower, located just inside the east entrance to Grand Canyon National Park.

Video 3: Looking south from Upper Tanner Campsite June 22–23, 2022.

I continue to hone my craft. As I do, in future blogs I’ll share some of my work in showing God’s glory. Stay tuned.

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