Christian Strait, an artist-astronomer-photographer from Madison, Wisconsin, has spent the past ten days at Dark Sky New Mexico working on some data visualization projects.  Mr. Strait explained that his current project illustrates distances to the stars of each of the twelve zodiacal constellations, since the night sky appears to us on kind of a depthless plane.  He noted that ”… After shooting each constellation, the distances to each star are visualized by the diameter of a circle around each star… the larger the circle, the closer that star is. The brightness of each circle illustrates how bright each star is from a distance of 10 light years, since a bright star 1000 light years away could appear to us as bright a dim star 100 light years away.”

Strait noted that in Wisconsin, Sagittarius and Scorpius do not completely rise above the horizon and that Dark Sky New Mexico is a perfect location for this due to its latitude, weather, and sky quality.  Strait said that, “… the Milky Way here is the brightest I have ever seen so I decided to start on a 200mm mosaic of the Milky Way core.  This place is a dream for any astrophotographer.”

Strait has enjoyed his stay at DSNM saying, “The accommodations are obviously catered for nocturnal guests, and couldn’t be any more precisely what I was looking for. And while remotely located far from any light dome, this place  still has any technical amenity you would need… dependable and fast wi-fi, ample electrical, etc. Michael and Vince have been  attentive, gracious hosts. They provided me with a vacant roll-off building to use and access to a work shop, which has pretty much every tool you’d think you’d need. They also allowed me access to almost all of the well-maintained property, which by the way is beautiful when the sun rises after a night’s shift of imaging. They also checked up on me frequently to make sure I was happy and comfortable.  I hope to be back frequently.”