April 03, 2013
Dustin Scriven's photography is out of this world.
A partial solar eclipse, the moom passing between the earth and sun, over Brandon Township on May 20, 2012.
Scriven, 20, a 2011 Brandon High School graduate and Oakland Community College sophomore, is a local astronomer and for the past few years has ventured out at night to remote locations to study the heavens utlizing a variety of telescopes along with precision photography equipment.
"I had a goal to take photos of the night sky," said Scriven. "We have star parties where basiclly we all go out on a clear night and watch the sky with telescopes. Some astronomers just observe; others, like me, started to take photographs of what we see. There is also a variety of equipment used—from pretty simple telescopes and cameras to ones that produce very sharp images."
The variety of celestial spheres photographed by Scriven over the past few years with his digital single-lens reflex camera has ranged from comets to solar and lunar eclipes to entire solar systems.
"We've had some remarkable photos including Nebula or interstellar cloud of dust, other gas, galaxies, star clusters, doubles stars, plants and even the rings on Saturn," he said. "We have never seen a UFO or anything that can't be explained—most of the astronomers are pretty rational—I get asked about that all the time. Really, it's never a topic of conversation. We all are just out there in the dark taking pictures of amazing stars."
Environment is a factor for the local astronomers, added Scriven.
"The less urban areas—about 30 miles outside of city lights, is the best. Around Flint and Detroit we all suffer from light pollution," he said. "Michigan in general is a bad place to study stars due to the damp, humid weather that's real common in the summer months. It makes everything kind of hazy."
"We do see plenty of satellites, airplanes and the International Space Station is visible about every 90 minutes or so as it orbits the Earth," he said. "It's very difficult to photograph because the station is moving."
Scriven said that many aspects of astronomy impact everyday life.
"For example, the invention of Wifi use for communications came out of radio astronomy in the 1990s," he said. "The defense department uses the Hubble space telescope to look down on Earth—it's a big part of national security."
Scriven plans to attend Michigan State University and study astrophysics.