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Photographer's Note

The lights at the bottom are the little town of Newton, Utah, founded by Mormon pioneers in the 1860s (population 696).

If you look carefully in the sky, you can see the Big Dipper, often called Ursa Major or the Large Bear. It looks more like a dipper than a bear, in my opinion. If you can find the cup, you can connect the dots at the end that then point to Polaris, or the North Star, in the upper right corner of the photo.

Ursa Minor, or the Little Dipper, is dancing around upside down up there, Polaris at the end of it's handle (or tail).

You can use the pointers of the Big Dipper as a star clock to tell the time, too! If you lived in the middle ages, you might have carried a little wheel called a "nocturnal" to do this. But if you can do elementary school math, you can do it without a nocturnal.

1. First, face north and imagine a 24 hour clock face transplanted to the sky. Find the Big Dipper and draw an imaginary hour hand from Polaris to the Dipper's pointer stars. Figure out what time this reads on our celestial clock. In this case, it looks like it's about 14:00 o'clock (but we're not finished yet!).

2. Subtract 2 hours for each month from March 8th. (October: so 5 hours, giving us a total of 9).

3. To get really detailed, subtract 30 minutes for each week, and , if you want to be more accurate, subtract 4 minutes per remaining day. Oh, and don't forget to ADD one hour for Daylight Savings Time (if necessary). Your answer will be local real time, accurate to within 30 minutes!

In this case, 9 pm is close enough. I believe it was about 9:20 or so when I captured this.

During slave times here in the U.S., the Big Dipper formed what African American slaves called the "drinking gourd." Using the Drinking Gourd as a guide, they could find Polaris and head north to possible safety and freedom.

In the U.K., the Big Dipper is called the "Plough," I believe.

What is called in other countries?


PP: As with almost all of my night shots, this was shot at ISO 100 to avoid noise. I still got it, and to fix it, I selected the stars and put them on their own layer. I then selected the hills and lake, and put them on their own layer. The sky (sans stars) was also on its own layer. With the stars gone, I could freely blur and add gradients so the sky looked clean. The stars were brighted slightly using Levels and sliding only the middle slider to the left. The hills and water also took some work, mostly with cleaning up using the Smudge tool.

Thanks for putting up with yet another shot with lots of negative space!

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Additional Photos by David Sidwell (dsidwell) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 2294 W: 168 N: 1911] (9783)
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