Photo Credit: David Kingham. CLICK photo for larger view and see below for information and links.

Just this photo alone brings back so many memories for me as I’ve been out here a few times. This beautiful photo of the night sky over what’s known as the Death Valley “Race Track” or “Racetrack Playa” is pretty much perfect. The perfectly clear desert night sky with a rather unusual sight used as a foreground object makes for a stunning visual. The stone in this photo is called a “sailing stone” and if you look at the trail behind it you can start to come to grips as to why it’s called the racetrack and the rocks; sailing stones. That’s because they move….on their own.

That’s right; there aren’t hoards of people out there pushing stones through sand like Tonka trucks but instead they go for an all-natural approach though this isn’t confirmed as nobody has ever witnessed one move first hand. The racetrack itself is almost perfectly flat as are most dry lake beds. The stones, it’s believed move when a combination of natural forces team up to create some proverbial “magic.” Every now and then it rains just enough to coat the dry lake and make the clay slippery. Match that slick surface with the occasional 90mph wind gusts and you have sailing rock conditions. That’s the leading hypothesis at this time anyway as the prevailing winds move from southwest to northeast; this matches the direction of most of the stones direction of travel. There are other hypotheses as well that involve ice and are very well founded but until there’s more data we just don’t know.

Below are links to much of David’s work. Do him and yourselves a favor by checking it out because it’s pretty amazing.

David Kingham photography:


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Image | This entry was posted in Astronomy (Learning), Astrophotography (Wide Field), Images, People, Stars (Non-Sun Related) and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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