Orion and Barnard's Loop Over West Mitten
This widefield astronomical image combines the light of the Milky Way, Orion, the Great Nebula in Orion, Barnard's Loop and the nebula in Monoceros with a silhouette of West Mitten in Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park. This image is part of a series I've worked on providing timescale perspective to life on earth. The light from Orion is 1.430 years distant. What we see is light that was emitted It illuminates a formation in the Cutler Formation whose age is estimated at 160 million years. Together, these powerful symbols suggest the impermanence of human presence and influence on this land.
[Image creation notes] This image is a single 2-minute exposure on a polar equatorial mount that counteracts the rotation of the earth and allows the faint signals from the stars to be accumulated over time. The image is processed as an astronomical image, stretching the light signal in processing to reveal the colors inherent in the night sky. Duplicate image layers are overlaid to add contrast and saturation. Original detail from the monument's surface was masked back in to add texture to the silhouette.