The Milky Way like never before: Mumons will unveil an exceptional photo of 400 million pixels!

The Milky Way like never before: Mumons will unveil an exceptional photo of 400 million pixels!
The Milky Way like never before: Mumons will unveil an exceptional photo of 400 million pixels!

It is a completely unique work which will be presented this Wednesday from 7 p.m. by the Mumons, the museum of the University of Mons, housed in the former Visitandines chapel. An exceptional photo of the Milky Way, entitled “The 400” will in fact be exhibited for the first time… For a more than likely “wow” result.

It all started with “a crazy idea” proposed for the Saint-Véran 2023 mission at the French astronomical observatory. Julien De Winter and Victor Sabet, two amateur astrophotographers from the UMONS astronomy circle (Olympus Mons), then decided, with complete carelessness, to make a high-definition gigamosaic of the Milky Way.

Armed with only two instruments with a focal length approaching 450 mm and all their motivation, they embarked on this titanic adventure in order to take spectators light years from our planet. It took a record installation time and hundreds of hours of assembly to obtain the result presented this Wednesday.

The MUMons carries out its little investigation and unearths a real treasure

“It may seem a little blurry said like that, but imagine 27 tiles, or 27 photos, captured in record time with the attention to detail of a lacemaker,” we emphasize on the Mumons side. “Hours of shooting in the wind, at 3000 meters altitude, where the sky is pure, deep black, then hundreds of hours of stitching to obtain a maximum resolution of 400 million pixels !”

For Julien De Winter, this project will remain memorable. “On paper, everything was simple, all that was left to do! But once at altitude, we had to face some technical problems, we had to review our plans,” explains the astrophotographer. “Once all that was resolved, we had to come back down with raw data to process. It was a huge technical challenge and a lot of work, including for our computers which did not always keep up and which sometimes crashed after hours or a night of processing.”

For the latter, the result generally lives up to expectations, even if… “We always say to ourselves that we could have done better. But given the difficulties encountered, we are quite happy despite everything! You must realize that in astrophotography, exposure times must be long because the objects are very dim. To get a lot of detail, you need dozens or hundreds of photos. Here, we have a mosaic of 27 photos, each of which corresponds to approximately 30 minutes of exposure time. This is a small feat, established in record time since in theory, at our latitudes, it would have taken between ten and 20 hours of exposure, per photo.”

No question for the duo, given the feat of being satisfied with little. “We wanted to think big in terms of format. We quickly came up with the idea of ​​aiming for 400 million pixels.” In short, a true technological feat, never before seen, which will be added to the current exhibition at the museum, “Exploring the invisible”, since the 18 square meter work will be integrated into the collection “The infinitely far away. ”

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