southern Utah arch, night sky

No water. Dead GPS batteries. Clouds hiding the North Star.

Hours after taking this 15-second exposure of the Milky Way and Sunset Arch in Utah’s southern desert, Carlos Y. “CY” Roby (PhD ’82) stopped walking in the dark, concerned that his backup compass had led him in a giant circle. He was right. “I shined my flashlight around,” he says, “and I’m back at the same spot I took off from.”

So the clinical psychologist and serious amateur photographer sat down in the sand with his backpack, watched the stars, then fell asleep, waiting for the sun to shine in the east and guide him to his truck.

Roby’s photo was worth the trouble, as it won first place in the landscape category of the Monte L. Bean Life Science Museum’s recent nature photography competition. The 2015 contest, back after a three-year break for museum construction, drew 303 entries from 170 photographers.

See all of the winners at


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