I Am a Universe Photographer | INDIE ALASKA


♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ People often think that art and science are in conflict,
and that’s not true at all. ♪♪ One of the things that I really
love about my images is that they’re a combination
of the two. ♪♪ ♪♪ ♪♪ My name is Travis Rector, and I’m a professor of physics
and astronomy here at the
University of Alaska Anchorage. Like many Alaskans I love to
take pictures of our beautiful
state. As an astronomer, I’m trying to
share with people this exotic
world of outer space. A place they will never get to
visit. And similarly with
Alaska, it’s a place that many people
will never get to visit as well. So in both cases I use my
pictures to try share with
people these places they may
never get to see themselves. It seems like almost every day
you have one of those Alaska
moments where you see something that
you may never see anywhere else. ♪♪ It’s been a lot of fun to share
with friends and family from
outside the state what it’s like to live here. I’ve been fortunate over the
years to have my astronomical
images appear in many places, been on the cover of National
Geographic, have had images in the New York
Times and other media outlets. One time I was on an airplane,
and the gentleman sitting next
to me was reading a magazine
and one of my images was there, and I said – hey, I made that
image, that’s mine! And he just
looked at me like, I don’t believe you. And so that was the end of the
conversation, haha. Well, the first thing to know
is, everything you see in the
images are real. All of these are pictures of
real stars, and galaxies and
nebulae. But they don’t show it the way
that your eyes can see, they
show it the way that our
telescopes can see. One of the things that
surprises many people is to
learn that many of the nebulae
that you see in these pictures are not too small to be seen
with your eyes, they’re
actually too faint. So the colors in the images
depend on what kinds of filters
we use and what kinds of light
we’re looking at. And then, what my images do is
to translate what the telescope
sees into something your eyes can
see. The technology that goes into
the camera on your cell phone is actually the same technology
that was developed for
astronomers back in the 90’s. And at the
time that I joined Kitt Peak
National Observatory in Southern Arizona, one of the
largest digital cameras ever
built, had been just commissioned for
the four meter telescope there.
And at the time, we wanted to create some images
to show other astronomers what
the camera was capable of
doing. And the images were so
successful and so popular that
we decided to start making more images for the public. And that
was 20 years ago, and ever
since then, I’ve been doing that for Kitt
Peak as well as other
observatories, such as Gemini Observatory in
Hawaii and in Chile. Often the universe is more exotic and amazing than
what we can create in our own
minds. And so, the reality is often
crazier than science fiction. These images are beautiful
often. And it’s exciting for me to put
together an image, and perhaps see an object in a
way that no one’s ever seen
before. Sometimes, when you create an
image, you have a pretty good
idea of what it’s going to look
like from the start, but often you don’t. And what’s
exciting is to see what it
looks like in the end. So it’s absolutely a wonderful
experience. And it’s fun for me to able to
share this with other people. ♪♪

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