A person is standing atop a mountain, with a shooting star and the Milky Way Galaxy shining above them.
In 2023, a photographer took a picture of a shooting star, the Milky Way Galaxy, and the Alps during the Perseids meteor shower, a celestial event that is happening again.
Nicholas Roemmelt scaled a mountain to capture his image, which involved combining different exposures taken from the same spot without moving the camera. The most challenging aspect of this process was capturing a meteor in the shot.
“We witnessed numerous shooting stars that night on the mountain, but they were always in the wrong direction,” he recounted.
“So, the camera was continuously taking one picture after another. I was determined to get that specific composition, but the shooting stars kept appearing outside the planned frame,” he explained.
It wasn’t until a massive meteor blazed into Roemmelt’s field of view, landing in the perfect spot right next to the core of the Milky Way, creating a breathtaking and stunning image.
The Right Conditions
Roemmelt took the shot in 2018, and it was recently showcased on NASA’s Astronomy Picture of the Day. However, the image was almost not possible due to unfavorable weather conditions on the Tyrolean peaks.
“The mountain summits were frequently shrouded in clouds, and the various weather forecasts were entirely contradictory,” he explained.
A person stands atop a mountain, with a shooting star and the Milky Way Galaxy shining above them.
Nevertheless, the Austrian photographer decided to make the trek up Mount Tschirgant, and luckily, the clouds cleared up.
“The high humidity’s haze was amplifying the strong light pollution from the valley, but the conditions turned out to be much better than I had hoped. All the clouds had disappeared above our summit,” says Roemmelt.
Editing the Image
The image is, indeed, a composite since it’s virtually impossible to capture all the elements accurately in a single shot. However, Roemmelt emphasizes that everything in the scene was genuinely present, and it is not a “fake” composite.
“The foreground, the Milky Way, and the (Perseids) shooting star have been combined and edited together in a single picture,” he explains.
“I also added and blended the pictures for the exposure bracketing to account for the bright city lights, and I used a focus stack for the person in the foreground,” he further describes.
Roemmelt used a Canon 1DX Mark II with a Sigma 14mm f/1.8 lens attached to capture the image.
The Perseid meteor shower began again on July 14 and will continue until September 1. The peak of the meteor shower is expected in the pre-dawn hours of Sunday, August 13.