Capturing panoramas of the Milky Way, the astronomy in which we live, could be like a terrifying act considering that, according to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, it is around 100,000 light-years across.
But Finnish astronaut JP Metsavainio has spent nearly 12 years sewing together 234 frames to create a mosaic of 125 degrees of sky.
The panorama, which shows 20 million stars, captures the space between the Taurus constella and Cygnus and was completed on March 16th.
“Astronomical photography is one of the most difficult forms of nature photography,” Mr. Metsavainio, a professional artist, told CNN on Friday.
“My mosaic image is very deep, meaning it shows very low targets and shapes in gas clouds of our home galaxy, the Milky Way.”
Each image in the mosaic is an independent work of art and can be seen on Mr Metsavainio’s blog.
He says that an image like this has never existed before, and this is one of the reasons why he decided to devote thousands of hours to the project.
Clear, dark skies away from urban light pollution are essential for astrophotography, photography of astronomical objects, action that takes place all over the world.
Patience is also important, as it can take hours or even days to capture just one image over a long publication.
Mr Metsavainio used a range of modified camera lenses and telescopes at his observatory in northern Finland, near the Arctic Circle.
It first uses image processing software to change levels and color before assembling the individual panels on Adobe PhotoShop, using asterisks as markers to match the correct frames.
The astronaut said his favorite images are of the remains of a supernova, a wonder that comes after a star explodes.
Several of them are visible in its panoramic view and the Cygnus Shell, a very small supernatural remnant seen as a pale blue ring near the North American nebula, took the astronaut only 100 times to create it.
His blog has had 750,000 visitors since the photo was published, up from around 1,000 per day on average.
“The reason I keep doing my slow work is endless curiosity, I love to see and show how amazing our world is,” he told CNN.
“This is a lonely and slow process but every time I see the results, I’m so happy for the first time. “
Accompanied by Queen guitarist and psychologist Brian May, Mr Metsavainio took part in a live-action broadcast in September hosted by the London Museum of Science.
At the time he was publishing a 3-D book about cosmic clouds by musician and editor of Astronomy Magazine David J Eicher.
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A passionate lover of the night sky, Mr. Metsavainio plans to continue his work but with a different lens.
“I’ve been burning the night sky with relatively short focus length optics for the last few years,” Mr. Metsavainio said.
“In the future, I will go back to a longer focus instrument.”