Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Seeing Stars North Hills Native's Photo of Mount Rainier to Be Featured on Forever Stamp

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Seeing Stars North Hills Native's Photo of Mount Rainier to Be Featured on Forever Stamp

Article excerpt

The night sky at Mount Rainier National Park in Washington is often photogenic: wide and dark and full of bright stars. Add to that firmament the Northern Lights and a guy with the time to get it right and you have the makings of a photograph worthy of a postage stamp.

That's just what the National Park Service thought when it saw a photograph - actually, a compilation of 200 photographs - taken by North Hills native Matt Dieterich, a graduate of both Robert Morris University and the University of Pittsburgh, who was working at Mount Rainier last summer.

The Mount Rainier stamp featuring Mr. Dieterich's photographic stylings is the 13th of 16 Forever stamps the U.S. Postal Service is releasing later this year to commemorate the National Park Service's 100th anniversary.

Mr. Dieterich, who began taking pictures of stars and the night sky shortly after getting a telescope 10 years ago, when he was in 10th grade, was working in June 2015 as an astronomy education ranger intern at Rainier when he noticed an "aurora" around the mountain.

"We were doing a night sky program for the public when I saw some pink color on the horizon, a signal that the Northern Lights were happening," said Mr. Dieterich, who grew up in Ross. "I grabbed my equipment and drove a couple of miles down the road to Reflection Lake. I like to take night photos away from roads and near water where I can get stars reflected. This spot had all those elements, plus the Northern Lights."

He set up his camera, a Nikon D750 with a 24 millimeter wide-angle lens, on a tripod, and programmed it to snap pictures, each with an eight-second exposure, in a two-hour window between 2 a.m. and 4 a.m..

"Since the Earth is rotating, each exposure shows stars in slightly different locations," he said. "When the photos are combined into one image the stars create a circular pattern around the North Star, which is just out of view at the top of the image. …

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