Last week the international news machine picked up a story first reported by Australia's News.com.au. The science article detailed how the star Betelgeuse — 1,300 light years away from Earth — is showing signs of an imminent collapse and explosion that will be bright enough to light our night skies for two weeks.
This supernova probably won't occur in our lifetime, but it could. In fact, the early end of the event window is 2012.
The explosion will send light and subatomic particles toward Earth, but neither will harm us. Which led me to wonder, as a photographer, what kind of unusual opportunities this would create for me and my camera.
The quality of light will almost certainly be different than what we receive from our sun day-to-day. Will it be a nice, warm light, or harsh and unattractive? Will the angle of the interstellar light illuminate landscapes and other scenes in new and unique ways? During morning and afternoon, will the two suns create a nice, balanced effect, allowing for studio-quality exposures to be made outdoors?
All of these issues and more will give photographers a chance to create images that were never before possible, and never will be again. Assuming it does happen during the course of human existence, the Betelgeuse supernova will truly be a once-in-a-million-lifetimes opportunity.