From the photographer: “I took the pictures past summer, during the annual star party in Topuklu pasture of Mt. Sandras in Denizli Province, southwest Turkey. This dark sky site is also home to many multi-centennial monumental black pine trees.

This black pine in the picture is one of the largest, 30 meters tall and at least 20 meters wide. It is actually wide enough to have the public dining area set under it. The place is always buzzing with activity whole day and evening, yet I was able to find the place quiet and inhabited, some hours after midnight. Jupiter shines to the left of the pine, while on the right side are Saturn and Fomalhaut. Above the pine are Pegasus and Andromeda, with Andromeda Galaxy (M31) and Triangulum Galaxy (M33) visible at the upper left.

Just after I photographed the first panorama, someone came and lit the campfire at the stone fireplace, probably getting ready for breakfast. This literally transformed the scenery, so I photographed the sky again with the huge pine lit by the fire. Yes, it is a magnificent black pine of many centuries, owning the area. During its life, Jupiter and Saturn must have completed many laps around the Sun.

In 2020, Jupiter had caught up with Saturn and both gas giants were shining next to each other, just a few degrees apart. In 3 years, the faster orbital velocity of Jupiter has carried it far ahead of slower Saturn, and they are more than 60 degrees apart in the sky in 2023. So, you can fit a huge black pine in between the two.”



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