Looking Up: Robert Arn's Nightscape Photography Merges Science and Science Fiction


Have you ever looked up at the night sky and wondered...who's out there? Is anyone else seeing the same sights in the same way? How tiny and insignificant must we be compared to the vastness of space?

Of course you have! Likely, you read SF to answer these questions or write SF to evoke these questions in others. As part of our impending site redesign, AboutSF has teamed up with astrophotographer Robert Arn to evoke this sense of wonder on our own website.

Robert Arn is currently a Ph.D student in mathematics at Colorado State University. Although he is busy teaching, researching, studying, and mathing, Robert still finds time to explore his passion: astrophotography. Robert does not simply photograph objects in the night sky; in addition to solcapes, moonscapes, and deep space objects, Robert mostly participates in what he calls nightscape photography. Nightscape photos are those that contain part of the sky and part of the Earth. In order to capture these images, Robert must wait for the perfect moment but also take long exposures so that there is enough light to see the earth portion of the photo in the nighttime.

After waiting around all night capturing hundres of photos, Robert spends hours carefully filtering, combining, blending, and otherwise altering individual photographs to create a composite image. Often, these composite images suggest a story to the viewer. In a way, Robert's images are creating science fiction in their own right but they can also provide inspiration to viewers to write their own science fiction.

Robert's work has been recognized and published by NASA' Astronomy Picture of the Week (APOW), Optics Picture of the Day (OPOD), Earth Science Picture of the Day (EPOD), spaceweather.com, and ouramazingplanet.com, to name just a few. To see Robert's work, visit AstroArn.com His prints are available for purchase in various sizes and we are very grateful that Robert has agreed to let us publish his amazing work on AboutSF.com as well.

In addition to his photography, Robert is an active amateur astronomer who participates in outreach programs worldwide designed to teach beginners how to observe objects in space. He has also written an ebook (available here) that serves as a beginner's handbook to astrophotography on a budget. Even if you don't know how to use a camera, this handbook will teach you what you need to get started seeing the night sky as an astrophotographer. He also makes available various lectures, presentations, and tutorials on his site.

If you are interested in contacting Robert about setting up a public observation night (PON) or an astrophotography tutorial in your area, please contact us at aboutsf@gmail.com.