A skywatcher is literally beaming at the night sky in this star-speckled portrait. Astrophotographer Ruslan Merzlyakov captured this cosmic selfie while stargazing on the beach in Stenbjerg, Denmark in January.
In the photo, the sea appears to be colored red from a nearby lighthouse. Though it may look like a small-scale supernova explosion is erupting from his neck, rest assured that no photographers were harmed in the making of this image! That massive beam of light is just the glow of Merzlyakov's headlamp, which amplified by the exposure settings on his camera.
"The sky was so dark that it was possible to see absolutely all the stars in the entire sky!" Merzlyakov told Space.com in an email. There are billions of stars in the Milky Way Galaxy — including our own sun. To achieve the most detailed, star-speckled night sky photos, astrophotographers like to get as far from light pollution as possible. [The Most Extreme Stargazing Objects in the Night Sky]
Light pollution not only deprives people of a wondrous view of the cosmos, but it can have serious health and environmental consequences, too. Besides wasting energy, pervasive artificial lighting can send confused migratory birds crashing into walls and disoriented baby sea turtles on their vital post-hatching trek to the ocean. Less than a third of the global population lives under naturally starlit and moonlit skies, according to the International Dark-Sky Association.
"With my images, I just want to show the beauty of our world at night and show a special atmosphere between the human and infinite space," Merzlyakov said.
Merzlyakov used a Canon EOS 6D camera with a Samyang 14mm f/2.8 lens. For this photo, he shot with an exposure time of 30 seconds and a high ISO setting (4000-6000).
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, please contact managing editor Tariq Malik at firstname.lastname@example.org.