Our Photo of the Week winner for October 4, 2019, is a little different. It’s not a deep-sky or Solar System object or a scene with the Milky Way or Northern Lights — instead, the image focuses on the science behind what we see.
Granted permission to the site by David Laneville from the City of Timmins, Karina Miki Douglas-Takayesu photographed a stratospheric balloon site in the early morning in Timmins, Ontario.
The PILOT Project is an international project led by the Centre National d’Etudes Spatiales (CNES) and the Institut de Recherche en Astrophysique et Planétologie (IRAP) to measure the submillimetre polarized emission from interstellar dust. Using those measurements, the website for the project notes its purpose is studying the origins of the Universe.
“Complemented by infrared measurements from the European Planck telescope between 2009 and 2013, these data will enable scientists to map the direction and intensity of the Milky Way’s magnetic field and probe the magnetic properties of interstellar dust grains,” it states.
“It’s a photo that tells a really cool story,” one of the judges said.
Douglas-Takayesu said her three-frame stacked composite (HDR) was taken at the Timmins Stratospheric Balloon Base located at the Victor M. Power Airport at 3:34 a.m. EDT on September 24, 2019.
“This scene is looking to the east with the rising Moon,” she wrote in an email. “The balloon in the lower left corner is moving the payload (to the right of the bright yellow light — CNES and IRAP project PILOT for measuring the submillimetre polarized emission from interstellar dust) on the ground (the 800,000 cubic-metre stratospheric balloon NIMBUS-4 did not start inflating yet). There is a Ministry of Natural Resources de Havilland DHC-6 Twin Otter aircraft (C-FOPI) and part of the stratospheric balloon infrastructure on the righthand side of the picture.”
She noted she used a Canon EOS 60D on a tripod, with a Canon EF-S 10-18mm at 14mm (1.6x crop factor = 22.4mm equivalent). The aperture was set to f/8.0 and the ISO was 800. The exposures included a 6.0-second frame, a 3.2-second frame, and a 13.0-second frame. She accomplished the HDR merge in Adobe Lightroom, and applied lens correction.