Starry, starry Boston from a 747

January 01, 2021
747 Pilot

Christiaan van Heijst, a 747 cargo pilot, has taken this stunning picture of a starry, starry night over Boston.

Christiaan explains.

“The lights of Boston shine brightly on the horizon, setting the atmosphere above the city ablaze in a yellow burning glow. Artificial lights at night, hidden from sight by a dim veil of clouds. I’m just one of the very few up here tonight.
Even though air traffic is slowly increasing worldwide, it is still far from pre-covid levels. The night is mine with a view into the depths of eternity above.
“Cockpit lights dimmed during the entire Atlantic crossing, letting our eyes completely adapt to the absence of light. It takes about fifty minutes to achieve proper night vision, but it’s so worth it. Planets, stars by the millions, satellites, meteors, and the incredible structure of the milky way galaxy: our local metropolis in the universe.
Billions of stars in our milky way galaxy alone, each hosting their own planets and moons. The distances are vast and so are the time scales… I cannot help but wonder what’s out there.
“Answers to questions that puzzle mankind and science; the reasons for time, gravity, dark- matter and energy to exist, the nature of quantum mechanics and the formation of life. Did it start somewhere else as well, or… did life even originate here on Earth? What would it be like if it did evolve independently somewhere else as well?
“Intelligent perhaps? Conscious? Curious?
“It’s interesting and fun to think about during those long silent trips through the upper atmosphere with my 747.
“One of the benefits of flying long-haul is witnessing the unfiltered beauty of the universe from the first row. Views that I cannot help but capture with my camera, sharing with the world to show people a perspective that invites thought and contemplations about so much more than day to day business. Or as my favorite present-day astronomer David Kipping would conclude; ‘Stay thoughtful, stay curious.’
“Shot taken with the Nikon Z7 and the Z14-30mm f/4.0.
Settings: 30 seconds, 14mm, f/4.0, ISO 12800.”
Christiaan, a 747 cargo pilot, is also one of the world’s leading aviation photographers and more of his work and more close encounter (s) can be found here. You can follow Christiaan on Instagram here: @jpcvanheijst