If you open an issue of Sky & Telescope at random, you'll probably find a beautiful wide-field photo of the night sky near the center. Have you ever wondered where we find these?
TWAN, short for The World at Night, was founded by S&T contributing photographer Babak Tafreshi. It's an ever-growing collection of images of earthly vistas set against a nighttime backdrop of stars, planets and celestial events You can read more about it at TWAN's "about us" page.
I hate to admit to having favorites, but Babak himself is my favorite of all the featured photographers — and this site has many of the world's best astrophotographers, including our own Dennis di Cicco. But I often have a problem when I want to run one of Babak's photos in our magazine. The available space often doesn't quite fit the photo. But every time I try to crop one of Babak's photos, I realize that it's impossible to do so — the original was perfectly conceived and framed in the camera from the get-go. Slicing even a fraction of an inch off any side ruins the image. This is the hallmark of a great photographer, regardless of subject matter. World news, wildlife, scenery, street events, still lifes, or the night sky — they're all different yet all the same.
Why don't you try your hand, too? All it takes is a digital SLR, a good tripod, a lot of skill, endless patience, and an artist's eye. Who knows, you might be the next Babak Tafreshi!