Fine Art Landscape Photography, Stars above Pen y Fan, Brecon Beacons National Park, Wales, UK
LIFT UP MINE EYES
Limited Edition Print *
Milky Way above Pen y Fan, Brecon Beacons, Wales
This image is a 30 second exposure of the Milky Way as it stretches up above the moon-lit Pen y Fan, the highest peak in Southern Britain. The image was taken at around midnight from the valley to the east of Pen y Fan.
There are a number of constellations visible in the image. One easy starting point is to locate the bright pink star near the very centre of the image: this is Vega, an important star with a rich cultural history. It is the fifth brightest star in the night sky and the second brightest star in the northern celestial hemisphere, after Arcturus. Due to its luminosity, Vega was the first star other than the Sun to be photographed. For the Roman Empire, the start of autumn was based upon the hour at which Vega set below the horizon.
Vega was also the northern pole star around 12,000 BC, will be again around AD 13,727, and is the brightest of the successive northern pole stars. Pole stars are visible stars that line up almost exactly with the earth’s axis of rotation. The earth wobbles slightly as it spins, in a 25,770 year cycle known as the ‘precession of the equinoxes’, and therefore the earth’s pole star changes over time as well. Our current pole star is Polaris, also known as the North Star, and is the star which remains in the same place throughout the night as the other stars appear to rotate around it (the apparent celestial rotation being a consequence of the earth’s rotation).
Vega is the brightest star in the constellation Lyra, and is discernable in the print. The name ‘Vega’ comes from a loose transliteration of the Arabic word w?qi, meaning ‘falling’ or ‘landing’, via the phrase an-nasr al-w?qi ‘the falling eagle’, referring to the constellation Lyra. The Arabic name in turn comes from the ancient Egyptian and/or ancient Indian cultures, which represented the constellation as an eagle or a vulture. Some star maps show the vulture or eagle carrying a lyre, a stringed instrument like a small U-shaped harp, used especially in ancient Greece, similar to a harp.
* Limited Edition Print Number is shown on the front of the print. This image is a Limited Edition Print of 350 for all prints larger than 12"x8".
Location: Brecon Beacons National Park, Wales, UK