Combining technology with creativity, astrophotographer Connor Matherne captures star-studded sights you cannot see with the naked eye. Matherne renders the awesome beauty of galaxies and nebulae in stunning detail within his photographs, a dozen of which will be on display in the Louisiana Art & Science Museum’s Universe Gallery beginning May 4, 2019. Astral Visions: Photographs by Connor Matherne will remain on view through December 1, 2019.
Matherne is an LSU graduate student and researcher at the university’s Planetary Science Laboratory. He came to the field of astrophotography (the photographing of the night sky, astronomical objects, and celestial events) through coincidence. After finding the work of an amateur astrophotographer on Reddit, his curiosity drove him to experiment with his brother’s telescope and his mother’s digital camera.
But astrophotography is not without its challenges. Most of Matherne’s subjects are millions of light-years away, which is far beyond the reach of most cameras. To produce these spectacular images, Matherne works remotely with multiple telescopes available at the Deep Sky West Observatory in New Mexico and, even then, it can take hours of exposure to capture a single image. His biggest project to date was The Belt of the Great Hunter which utilizes 47 hours of exposure.
Visitors will also be able to view the exact location in the Milky Way of each distant celestial phenomena included in Matherne’s photographs by using the OmniGlobe, the Museum’s newest state-of-the-art learning tool. The 60-inch dual HD digital globe contains over 200 images and animations related to atmospheric science, cosmology, and other disciplines.
Matherne’s work has been featured by the European Space Agency and published in many websites and books. He has also been shortlisted for the Astrophotographer of the Year award by the Royal Greenwich Observatory. More of his photographs can also be viewed on his Instagram, and his website.