Flying on a plane can be an amazing experience. If you are lucky, you may fly past a few storm clouds, and watch as lightning dances from cloud to cloud high in the atmosphere. On a crystal clear night, you may be able to see the stars twinkling like a million candles in the sky. But nothing can beat the view on the clearest of nights, when you can see the Milky Way shining faintly in the cosmos.
Ultimately, flying is the perfect opportunity to escape all the light pollution, all the clouds, and the thick atmosphere that blocks the light from the stars (plaguing astronomers and astrophotographers alike). If you have right equipment, you can capture a spectacular view like this one…
On the left, you see the wing of a 747; on the right, you can see the Milky Way dancing across the cosmos.
This image was taken by astrophotographer Alex Merga in a Boeing 747 on a late night flight from New York to London. At the time, Merga was some 11,000 meters (36,000 feet) over the Atlantic ocean and traveling at 1,000 kilometers per hour (600 mph). It was about 01:00 and the plane was about 350 km (220 miles) from Hailfax when he saw a window of time to take an image of his view from the plane. To capture this sight, Merga had to take over 90 exposures. In the end, he was left with one 10 second exposure that did the view justice, the one seen here.
In order to ensure that the view came out right, Merga set his Canon 28mm f1.8 lens wide open, and he set his Canon 450D to 1600 ISO, which is the maximum for his camera. He also had to cover himself with a blanket in order to ensure that there was no reflection from the light inside the plane (he also used a tripod to stabilize the camera).
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