Summer Postcards From The 1900’s | The Milky Way From Beirut
I always wondered how the generations before us lived, a hundred or so years ago, when light was not as easy a commodity to acquire; how the streets of cities like Beirut looked like before Tesla and Edison, and most importantly, how the skies of Beirut looked like.
I tried, I tried looking for images of Beirut from the early 1900s, going through works of the brilliant Sarrafian brothers, of searching AUB archives from that era. Although shooting Beirut against a backdrop of the Milky Way, on film, could have been possible from those times due to low light pollution, I found none, but the image stayed a dream.
The Milky Way is a glorious sight in our mountains, in the dark clear skies that we are gifted with. It’s the galaxy our Earth swims in, it appears as a narrow band of light across our summer skies, it can not be shot, nor seen from Beirut.
Or so I thought.
With a bit of science, our galaxy could be shot from Beirut. The following is the first recorded picture of our galaxy from within the light pollution of our city, a Beirut Milky Way.
A bit of technicalities:
Normally, such an image is impossible, but by removing the IR blocking filter from the front of the camera’s sensor, by adding an IR pass filter, we eliminate a lot of the light pollution and are able to get the Milky Way clearly from even the most light polluted skies.
This is not a photo edit, it is a true capture of the Milky Way above Beirut, a technique we have not seen before to capture the broad night sky from light polluted cities – Beirut being privileged with a first.
Back from the technical, it’s not Beirut in the 1900s but it’s what Beirut can be if light sources are well controlled.
The sky is precious. It teaches us humbleness and modesty. It drives us towards ventures. It reminds us of our mortality, and significance.
Cheers to that, one day.