Have You Seen TWAN?

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?

We have two main sources: the world-master constellation photographer Akira Fujii, and the TWAN website.

The Milky Way arches over Iguaçu Falls on the Parana River, the border between Brazil and Argentina. The Large Magellanic Cloud is prominent above the small tree in the center. Click above to see the original photo on the TWAN website.
Babak A. Tafreshi / TWAN
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!

4 thoughts on “Have You Seen TWAN?

  1. Saeed Nazarieh

    Really beautiful …
    The photos that are very well prepared Tafreshi.
    Hope someday to be able to cities similar to the images produced. I know a dream is impossible …
    But unfortunately these days in most other major cities the same number of stars is low not seen and this has caused many people great and beautiful world are far above their heads.
    But still is with these images by providing a prominent astronomers, such as Mr. Babak Tafreshi, this beautiful show to the people.

  2. Bruce Berger

    I had the pleasure of keeping company with Babak Tafreshi on the Eclipse Cruise of the Century aboard the Costa Classica almost one year ago. One of my favorite pictures is one that Babak took of me on the bow of the darkened ship, looking through binoculars at the beautiful southern Milky Way.

    During the cruise he was able to compose and capture some really wonderful pictures which made it to his website, and frequently to APOD. Here’s my favorite from the cruise – http://antwrp.gsfc.nasa.gov/apod/ap090730.html.

  3. Vladimir Zhivotovsky

    looking through the just discovered TWAN site I was somehow attracted among others by a photo of Richard Wainscoat http://www.twanight.org/newTWAN/guests_photos.asp?ID=5001499 It has truly amazed me by its fantastic vista (and it also can be used in the course of astronomy studies when you “study” Polaris and the North Pole and their interrelations).
    Also, this time at the site of himself – wounderful photos of Comet Hale-Bopp are available…http://wainscoat.com/halebopp/

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