When photographer Matt Dieterich was interning at Mt. Rainier in 2015, he saw a once-in-a-lifetime chance to take the perfect shot of the night sky over the mountain. Or, as it turns out, 200 shots that combined to make the stunning image that will grace the new stamp.
“After working with visitors at the Mount Rainier astronomy program on June 22, 2015, I noticed there was an aurora, so I drove down to Reflection Lake to capture it,” Dieterich said. “To create this star trails image I took 200 photos. Since the Earth is rotating, each 8-sec. exposure shows stars at slightly different locations. 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. The pink aurora spread throughout the background sky. Mountaineers can be seen with their white headlamps climbing Mount Rainier on the right side of the volcano.”
In recognition of the National Parks Service’s 100th anniversary this year, beginning June 2 the United States Postal Service is releasing a series of 16 National Parks Forever Stamps, of which Dieterich’s stamp will be the 13th.
While Dietrich’s image captures the palette of colors in the night sky at Mt. Rainier, it’s the daytime colors that have generally garnered the most interest from photographers, especially during the wildflower season.