Amateur astronomer and photographer Nick Risinger quit his day job as a Seattle marketing director last year, so he could lug six synchronized cameras around the world taking thousands of pictures that would capture an image of the entire night sky.

Risinger set up his rack of cameras in high-elevation locations in the Western U.S. and South Africa, timing the photo shoots for long and dark nights. He programmed his six cameras to track the stars as they moved across the sky and simultaneously snapped thousands of photos.

He ended up with more than 37,000 exposures, which he stitched together in a computer to create a single spectacular panorama of the entire night sky.

The composite photo is a 360-degree view of the Milky Way, planets and stars in their true natural colors.  It's interactive, so viewers can zoom in on any spot in the 5,000-megapixel image to see galaxies and constellations up close.

via The night sky in 37,440 exposures | National news | - Houston Chronicle.

Risinger sells high resolution blow-up prints of this photo, but he says he didn't do this to make money.  It was a labor of love which he did for educational purposes, to develop tools and photo content for the classroom. The entire interactive photo can be seen and explored on his website.

via Photopic Sky Survey.