One of my favourite things to look at and photograph is the sky. It always has something new to offer, be it amazing cloud formations or magnificent colours that speak to the soul. Although many of us live is cities where atmospheric and light pollution are high, the night sky can also hold some hidden gems. This photo of Tower Bridge is a great example, so allow me to walk you through the process of how it started as a regular image and ended up holding a powerful message during this difficult period.
The story begins with the moon. I had been meaning to take some nice photos of the crescent phase for some time, but never got around to doing it. So I started planning this new shot by scouting for a good location. I used a combination of tools to figure out when and where I need to be to get the crescent and Tower Bridge in the same frame. On the night, I cycled to the planned location and was thrilled to find the scene exactly as I had in mind. I was very excited about the moon and focused all my attention on framing the shot with nothing else in mind.
I went home later that night and declared my mission a success. I immediately processed the photo and couldn't wait to share the result. Luckily, I was telling a friend about this and she pointed out that Venus was clearly visible near the moon that night. So I looked back at the photo and this time paid more attention to all the other things in the sky. I started comparing the locations of the small bright spots in my photo to a map of the celestial objects as they appeared at the time I took the shot. This is when things became much more interesting.
The bright spot in the upper centre is Aldebaran, also known as Alpha Tauri, the brightest star in the Taurus constellation. That small dot represents a star that is 44 times the diameter of our own sun and lives 65 light years away! I was not planning to see any stars when I took this photo, but finding Aldebaran here pushed me to continue investigating.
The stars in the lower right corner of the close-up above are part of the Hyades cluster. Theta² Tauri is the brightest star of the cluster and is clearly visible. This cluster, formed of stars of similar age and origin, is in fact 153 light years away, much farther from our planet than Aldebaran.
It was only a matter of time before I decided to trace the Taurus constellation on this photo. At first I only did so on the close-up, but then I extended the lines onto the full image and the result was totally worth it. The alignment was just right. Taurus was occupying the upper centre of the image, with one limb extending behind the moon and one limb going down behind the northern tower of the bridge. I could not have asked for a better outcome.
The more I looked at this photo, the more it reminded me how vast the Universe is. Despite everything happening now, the stars continue shining bright. This little trip to outer space was so pleasant and unexpected. It broadened my horizon and reminded me to look beyond what I can see at first glance.
This small adventure ended up as a short, 2 minutes video that you can find below (play it in full screen). I hope this brings you a good change of perspective, which I am sure is very needed today while we mostly stay indoors.