Pointing his camera at galaxies and nebulas light years away from our pale blue dot, astrophotographer Navaneeth Unnikrishnan brings celestial worlds from deep space within touching distance. By Sumeet Keswani
The Hubble telescope was launched in 1990, bringing us the first glimpses of deep space in May that year. It would be another three years before Navaneeth Unnikrishnan would even be born. As a boy, Navaneeth loved outer space and grew up on a healthy diet of NASA images, believing that only the US space agency had the wherewithal to capture celestial worlds.
Until five years ago, when he accidentally captured the Milky Way in a wide frame from the rooftop of his Kozhikode home. The image led him down the search-engine rabbit hole of deep-space photography. An electronics engineer by training, Unnikrishnan invested in all the essential equipment, including a telescope, adapters, a tracking mount, cameras, and lenses, to capture deep-space objects himself.
Since then, there has been no looking back for this 25-year-old astrophotographer, and his Instagram page (@navaneeth_unnikrishnan) is testament to his passion. Armed with software like Stellarium and Cartes du Ciel, Unnikrishnan regularly travels to high-altitude regions like Spiti and Ladakh, where the air is thin (and hence, low on dust) and urban light is missing altogether, to capture these images of galaxies and nebulas far far away.