A photo by Iranian photographer Babak Amin-Tafreshi has been seleced by NASA as the picture of the day for July 12, 2012.
Explanation: Engraved in rock, these ancient petroglyphs are abundant in the Teimareh valley, located in the Zagros Mountains of central Iran. They likely tell a tale of hunters and animals found in the middle eastern valley 6,000 years ago or more, etched by artists in a prehistoric age. In the night sky above are star trails etched by the rotation of planet Earth during the long composite exposure made with a modern digital camera. On the left, the center of the star trail arcs is the North Celestial Pole (NCP), the extension of Earth's axis into space. Polaris, the North Star, leaves the bright, short, stubby trail closest to the NCP. But when these petroglyphs were carved, Polaris would have made a long arc through the night. Since the Earth's rotation axis precesses like a wobbling top, 6,000 years ago the NCP was near the border of the constellations Draco and Ursa Major, some 30 degrees from its current location in planet Earth's sky.
About Babak Tafreshi:
The World At Night (TWAN) founder and leader, Babak Tafreshi is a science journalist, photographer, and astronomy communicator using all media. Born in 1978 in Tehran he lives in Germany but could be anywhere on the planet, from the Sahara to the Himalayas or Antarctica. He is a board member of Astronomers Without Borders organization, a photo ambassador for the European Southern Observatory (ESO), and contributing photographer at Sky&Telescope; a world's leading astronomy magazine. He received the 2009 Lennart Nilsson Award, the world's most recognized award for scientific photography, for his global contribution to night sky photography. Since TWAN was designated as the first Special Project of International Year of Astronomy 2009, Tafreshi cooperated with the International Astronomical Union and UNESCO as a project coordinator for IYA2009. As a science journalist he has contributed to many television and radio programs on astronomy and has interviewed world-renowned astronomers and space scientists. He was editor of the Iranian astronomy magazine (Nojum) for a decade and has been a board member of the Astronomical Society of Iran's outreach committee were he directed many national astronomy events.
Started the photography of the night sky above natural landscapes and historic architecture in the 1990s, he has always been fascinated by the universality of the night sky; the same sky appearing above different landmarks of the world. He connects with world-wide astronomy community through science journalism and his presentations and workshops. Photography, science stories, and eclipse chasing has taken him to all of the continents. On the Facebook
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