The photo you’re looking at is the world’s largest-ever true-color 360-degree image of the night sky. Of course, that’s not the whole of it, since the actual photo won’t fit in here. What would it take to come up with the “world’s largest” night sky photo? Try 37,000 individual images stitched together into a 5,000-megapixel image, showing the Milky Way galaxy—complete with nebulae, stars and planets—as you’d see it if your eyes could brighten up the image about 3,000 times.
The image was snapped (and snapped… and snapped…) by Nick Risinger, who just quit his job, packed six pro-grade astronomical cameras, and hiked 60,000 miles through western US and South Africa to snap the 37,000 photos needed for this single panorama. The cameras were set on tripods that rotate with the Earth, and were set to snap between 20 and 70 exposures each night in three different color wavelengths.
To keep the shots clean, Risinger avoided populated areas and kept to dry dark areas without light pollution. Most of the northern parts of the image were taken from deserts in Arizona, Texas and northern California while the southern parts of the image were shot during two trips to South America.
If you want to own a copy of this awesome shot, Risinger plans to sell poster-sized prints of the image from his website, but you don’t really have to spend a cent to appreciate it. He wants to make the image available for educational purposes (for museums, planetariums and classrooms), but for everyone else who just wants to see something awesome, you can check out the Photopic Sky Survey for free here. [via Wired]