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Starlight, Star Bright
Photograph by Jim Richardson

John Johnson, a lifelong amateur astronomer from Omaha, gets an unimpeded view of the heavens during the annual Nebraska Star Party, held each summer at Merritt Reservoir State Recreation Area. Far from any human-generated light pollution, star partiers can even glimpse the center of the Milky Way—located behind Johnson's telescope—with the naked eye. "People talk about the majesty of the Rocky Mountains, but there is also a certain majesty here," says Johnson, who at his day job keeps Omaha's lights burning as an engineer at a nuclear power plant.

Photo Fast Facts

Camera: Nikon D100    
Film Type: Digital
Lens: 16mm f/2.8 Nikkor Fisheye
Speed and F-Stop: 2 minutes @ f/2.8
Weather Conditions: Clear dark sky
Time of Day: About midnight
Lighting Techniques: I used a camera on a tripod and a small Maglite with a red filter on a telescope. I had a laser pointer in background.
Special Equipment or Comments: I set the D-100 to its maximum speed of 1600 with a +2 push, giving the equivalent speed of 6400. Then I had the astronomer hold still for the two-minute exposure while I "painted him" with about five seconds of light from my red-filtered Maglite. I had the man in back hold the laser pointer steady and lit for about 16 seconds.

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