Namibian quiver trees and the glow of a galaxy

By Phil Plait | October 28, 2012 7:00 am

Florian Breuer is a mathematician who teaches in South Africa. He’s also a photographer, and created this spectacular panorama of the Quiver Tree Forest near Keetmanshoop, Namibia.

[Click to embiggen and see the whole shot; I had to crop it a bit to fit here.]

Isn’t that gorgeous? The arch of the Milky Way behind the trees is beautiful, and when I look at this picture I can’t help but think of an array of radio telescope dishes turned toward the heavens.

By eye, the Milky Way is easily visible on a dark night from a dark site. The diffuse glow of the distant stars is interrupted by the accumulated absorption by clouds of dust between them and us, splitting the glow along its middle. In photographs like this, of course, those features leap right out.

Do you want to take pictures like this? Florian wrote up a pair of essays (first and second) describing how he made this and a few other images from his trip to Namibia. Of course, I suspect the first step is travel to Namibia, which may prove difficult for some of us. Still, there are plenty of places to take devastating pictures of the sky. Maybe even near you! So give it – haha – a shot.

Image credit: Florian Breuer, used by permission

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CATEGORIZED UNDER: Astronomy, Pretty pictures

Comments (13)

  1. carbonUnit

    A glorious dawn awaits, not a sunrise, but a galaxyrise…

  2. DrFlimmer

    Well, being in Namibia right now (until Wednesday), I can say it’s fairly easy to come here and see the beautiful skies. Surely, when I’m back in Europe it will prove to be difficult again. ūüėÄ

    Anyway, the skies are, indeed, awesome down here.

  3. Peter Davey

    In one of Heinlein’s “juvenile” novels, there is a story about a “worm” that grows arms and legs, and climbs a tree to try and reach the stars overhead. That having failed, it returns to the ground, and begins another procedure – which is, of course, still in motion.

    “To try, with his last ounce of courage, to reach the unreachable stars…”

  4. Phil, You are right, it is gorgeous!!! Absolutely beautiful. Living in Florida, the skies are usually clouded over at night so star-gazing isn’t as easy and often as you’d like. This photograph shows just how wondrous the galaxy/skies can be when you’re in the right place at the right time with no light interference from civilization. Stunning! Thanks to you for sharing this and many thanks to Mr. Florian Breuer for taking it. :)

  5. Yes, this photo is breath taking, my favourite of Florian’s photos. 3 others I find very special: Rice paddies in Madagascar, the baobabs and 5 women at the beach:
    Flo took up photography as a hobby less than 2 years ago.

  6. Nick

    The Aloe dichotoma are also a lovely sight for us astronomy/botany buffs!

  7. Georg

    a country, where such an array of some few trees
    is called a “forest” :=(

  8. Robin

    Where would one find the uncropped version?

  9. Joseph G

    and when I look at this picture I can’t help but think of an array of radio telescope dishes turned toward the heavens.
    Not surprising, really. The trees are shaped in such a way as to catch radiation from the sky (in this case from one particular star). Call it convergent evolution :)

  10. Isabel

    Beautiful photos, but the copyright and name in the corner of every photo is very distracting almost tacky (and easily cropped out anyway if someone wants to steal them).

  11. Crudely Wrott

    Oh my! It’s full of stars . . .

  12. Kevin

    I was at this very spot three years ago, and I remember sitting around the campfire looking up at the centre of the galaxy for the first time: breathtaking!


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