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The milky way above Emerald Lake in Bear Lake Basin of Rocky Mountain National Park




The milky way above Emerald Lake in Bear Lake Basin of Rocky Mountain National Park.


The Wild Embracing Silence

Emerald Lake in Bear Lake Basin of Rocky Mountain National Park is a unique place to enjoy the splendor of the Milky Way.
In August, the Milky Way rises at four in the morning in the gap between the 3877 m (12.720 ft) high Hallet Peak on the left and the 3756 m (12.324 ft) high Flattop Mountain on the right. Because of its perspectively protruding rock needles, however, this mountain appears anything but flat on its top. One day before the new moon, the crescent moon bathes the scenery in an enchanting light. The summer triangle, consisting of the three very bright stars Deneb, Vega and Atair of the constellations Swan, Lyra and the Eagle gleams in the band of the bright Milky Way. The Milky Way itself is traversed by a dark band of interstellar dust hiding the light of the stars behind it.
The trough between the mountain peaks holds the Tyndall cirque glacier, a small remnant of a once impressive valley glacier, which nowadays consists mostly out of frozen boulders and debris to form a rock glacier. Tyndall Creek flows through a number of beautiful lakes on its way into the valley, which include Emerald Lake, Dream Lake and Bear Lake. The cirque forms in which these lakes are located were scoured out by the Tyndall glacier during the last Ice Age.
The mountain range forms the continental divide of the Rocky Mountains, and Emerald Lake is located on the dry eastern side. Tyndall Creek therefore discharges its waters east into the Atlantic Ocean, while all streams west of the divide flow into the Pacific Ocean. When it rains along this ridge, the paths of neighboring rain drops and snowflakes falling west and east of the divide separate ways for a very long time.
Technically, this starscape photograph of Emerald Lake is a 180° horizontal and 180° vertical composite of 9 static landscape images and 9 dynamic star-tracking images, each taken with 14 mm focal length and 4 minutes exposure. The image features a resolution of 171 megapixels.
A night out under the Milky Way at Emerald Lake is such an emotional experience and so far away from our everyday world that the perspective for the essential becomes obvious and apparent again. Our planet is such a unique and enchanting place in the depths of the universe and home to all of us. Such a night teaches deep respect and awe, and implements the sustained desire to rethink.

August 2018
Canon 5DSR, Rokinon 14 mm, f/2.8, composite of 9 static and 9 star-tracked dynamic images with 4 minutes exposure each, ISO 1600, Manfrotto 055CB tripod with Manfrotto 410 geared head, AstroTrac TT320 digital star tracking

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