"We are made of star stuff." - Dr. Carl Sagan
Star stuff. The image that comes to mind may be a sidewalk full of Hollywood stars. Or maybe it means we are all covered with sparkly glitter. But, when Carl Sagan said that he wasn’t just being metaphoric.
In a very poetic way, he was saying that the materials in our bodies were forged in distant, long-extinguished stars. He was meaning we are all the same. And, we are also the same as the cosmos itself. Let that sink in for a minute.
Our bodies are mostly made of water. For those that don’t remember much about high school chemistry, that means, in other words, H2O. Two atoms of hydrogen - the most abundant atom in the universe and in our bodies; and one atom of oxygen - that we require to breathe.
Speaking of science, California Nebula is an emission nebula as it emits light by the ionization of hydrogen atoms. Its fluorescence look is due to the excitation of the hydrogen atoms in the nebula by the nearby extremely energetic star, Xi Persei (also known as Menkib). So, just as we humans get together and form our social bonds, California Nebula is also made of hydrogen atoms mostly that got together by gravitational pull.
As science suggests, we are all made of stardust. We are equal and identically composed. We humans have found a way to survive together on this planet from day one to this day.
Just like the stars. By sticking together.
I was curious how astrophotography would fit into a curated theme of “Together”. Then I saw the photograph and a lightbulb went off. A single star appears as a pinprick of light. While clusters of stars, gasses, atoms, and light, together, take on a unique shape. In this case, a nebula that is shaped like California.
Mustafa Aydın is an astrophotographer with 8+ years of astrophotography and almost lifelong experience in general photography. He was born and raised in a photographer family that has the 3rd generation of photographers, at the moment, perhaps more to come.
His childhood was centered in the triangle of photography, space, and aviation. As such, he studied Physics Engineering for the love of science, cosmos, and technology.
He is concentrated mainly on Deep Space Astrophotography and Widefield Astrophotography, aka Milkyway Astrophotography. Shooting astrophotography takes patience, multi-disciplinary knowledge, and long hours of work. Lots of images of the same object are taken then these shots are stacked and post-processed, in special software.
Mustafa primarily uses his own equipment, a Meade Instruments 70mm Refractory Telescope, Orion Atlas Pro Mount (Tracker), Nikon D5300 Camera, and lots of cables, software, and accessories. He also has access to the Telescope Live remote telescopes located in Chile, Spain, and Australia.
He is co-founder and member of Ankara Astronomy Group, and co-founder and co-owner of Stellar Xperiences. He is a brand ambassador for Meade Instruments. He is a judge for monthly astrophotography competitions organized by Telescope Live.
He has had numerous photos published in national science magazines. Several of his photos have been selected as astrophotography of the day, week, or month from international platforms. One photo was shortlisted in the most prestigious astrophotography contest called "Astronomy Photographer of the Year - Royal Museums Greenwich" in 2020 in the aurora category.
Several of his photos are being exhibited in Gokmen Space and Aviation Training Center in Bursa, Turkey. And, in 2020 Mustafa was able to photograph the Comet Neowise, with rare bicolor (red and blue) ion tails.
A collection of photographers like the world has never seen.
A group based on diversity – language, race, age, ability/disability, years in the field, life experiences, and area of specialty.
26 photographers. 12 countries.
Speaking different languages - in both words and images. Landscape, travel, portrait, drone, adventure, fine art, wildlife, and even astrophotography. The intention was to assemble a diverse group – as diverse as possible. Pulling from every corner of the world.
Along the way, something happened. Something that could only happen in 2022 with the benefits of Discord, Zoom, Web3, Google Translate, NFTs, and modern-day enabling technologies. Working together around the world is now just like best friends meeting at the local coffee shop. Despite our differences, we’ve united. Our collective has become a fun and familiar place to relax. Day by day we’ve built greater friendships, made of sharing jokes, photography tips, favorite recipes, and lots of laughter. Many days the only thing we are serious about is our work.
We’ve combined our collective strengths. With a common bond of photography, we have helped each other learn and grow. Like a close family we have faced sickness and health, marriage and new life, loss and death, joys and sorrows, computer crashes and file sizing issues, dealings with young children and aging parents. Late nights, long days, crazy deadlines, and dealing with at least a dozen different time zones. When asked what makes us unique, the best answer is a miraculous, “we all get along?”
Even though many of us have not yet met face-to-face, and maybe never will, we have indeed become family.
So, in one way, we have failed miserably. We intended to be diverse. Different in every way. Instead, we win. Turns out we are much more alike than different. All navigating this crazy thing called life.
Working as artists to tell our stories through photography.
With a single, united passion.
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