Astrophotographer Visits 'Alien World' on Earth in Spectacular Photo

Jeff Dai
Astrophotographer Jeff Dai took this self-portrait in the Himalayan mountains of Tibet, China, on Oct. 7, 2016. (Image credit: Jeff Dai)

When astrophotographer Jeff Dai set out to see the stars shining over giant Himalayan glaciers, he stumbled upon a scene that looked more like an alien planet than an earthly landscape.  

Tall, jagged glaciers glow bright blue beneath the Milky Way galaxy in one of the photos from Dai's excursion through the Himalayas. He captured the image on Oct. 7 in Tibet, a region in southwest China. You can see more awesome Milky Way photos here.

"The winter Milky Way was dueling with zodiacal light," Dai told in an email. Other sights that night included the constellation Orion, a nebula named Barnard's Loop, the bright star Sirius, the Andromeda galaxy and the Pleiades star cluster, Dai said. Mars is visible to the left.

Towers of ice, called seracs, surround Dai in this stunning self-portrait. Seracs form in places where crevasses, or large cracks in a sheet of ice, intersect and cause glaciers to break. The icy peaks can be as big as a house. Dai said that he planned the photo to show "a comparison of human and serac, showing how great the serac is."

The glacier in Dai's photo isn't really blue like it appears in the photo. Dai suspects that the camera settings combined with his own outfit caused the cool color effect to appear.

 "I'm thinking it's due to my blue jacket and white balance," he said.

Seracs may be big, icy beauties, but they can also be physically unstable and dangerous to walk on. To Dai, the potential hazards were worth the spectacular selfie and other photos he took there.

Dai also created an incredible virtual-reality 360-degree panorama of the starry sky and the Milky Way illuminating the Himalayan glaciers. He even captured a few Draconid meteors in the panorama.

You can see more amazing night sky photos by our readers in our astrophotography archive here.

Editor's note: If you have an amazing night sky photo you'd like to share with us and our news partners for a possible story or image gallery, send images and comments in to

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Hanneke Weitering
Contributing expert

Hanneke Weitering is a multimedia journalist in the Pacific Northwest reporting on the future of aviation at and Aviation International News and was previously the Editor for Spaceflight and Astronomy news here at As an editor with over 10 years of experience in science journalism she has previously written for Scholastic Classroom Magazines, MedPage Today and The Joint Institute for Computational Sciences at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. After studying physics at the University of Tennessee in her hometown of Knoxville, she earned her graduate degree in Science, Health and Environmental Reporting (SHERP) from New York University. Hanneke joined the team in 2016 as a staff writer and producer, covering topics including spaceflight and astronomy. She currently lives in Seattle, home of the Space Needle, with her cat and two snakes. In her spare time, Hanneke enjoys exploring the Rocky Mountains, basking in nature and looking for dark skies to gaze at the cosmos.