Bright lights far away, small lights close by

October 23, 2014

Capturing stars and fireflies in the same shot takes some great skill and planning in a photographer.

Alex Wild did it.

From his Twitter feed:

Alex Wild @Myrmecos

Alex Wild @Myrmecos: And also trying more challenging lighting environments, like night shots of fireflies.


Milky Way from Mosquito Creek, Olympic National Park

September 25, 2014

Does the name, “Mosquito Creek,” discourage people from visiting?  See what they miss.

Milky Way from Mosquito Creek, #olympicnationalpark A gorgeous night in a spectacular location. @NPCA , via Hudson Henry @Hudson_Photo

Milky Way from Mosquito Creek, #olympicnationalpark A gorgeous night in a spectacular location. @NPCA , via Hudson Henry @Hudson_Photo


Milky Way at Philmont

August 25, 2014

This is why experienced Scouts, the better Scouts, don’t use their flashlights at night.

No one wants to miss this light show.

Philmont Scout Ranch night sky.   Philmont is home to some amazing views. Photo by Kaitlyn Chaballa.

Philmont Scout Ranch night sky. Philmont is home to some amazing views. Photo by Kaitlyn Chaballa.

One can get similar views all across northern New Mexico, of course.

More:


Abiquiu stars

August 11, 2014

Making those nice photographs of the Milky Way and stars isn’t so easy as it looks.

I made my most successful efforts on our recent swing through Colorado, New Mexico and West Texas.  Here’s a shot I got that almost shows the Milky Way, probably has Polaris in it, and because it was a timed exposure, also captured star movement and an airplane flying overhead.  Photo was taken from the Army Corps of Engineers campground at Abiquiu Reservoir, a few miles from Georgia O’Keefe’s home.

Abiquiu Stars - Time photograph of stars against a pinon pine, pointing north; Milky Way almost visible in the East.

Abiquiu Stars – Time photograph of stars against a pinon pine, pointing north; Milky Way almost visible in the East.


Glorious images of the Sun, from NASA

July 3, 2014

Who’d have thought of such an image, before we used satellites to look?

NASA SDO images of the Sun

From NASA: Image info: This combination of three wavelengths of light from NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory shows one of the multiple jets that led to a series of slow coronal puffs on January 17, 2013. The light has been colorized in red, green and blue. Credit: NASA SDO

NASA’s press release, from June 27, 2014:

A suite of NASA’s Sun-gazing spacecraft have spotted an unusual series of eruptions in which a series of fast puffs forced the slow ejection of a massive burst of solar material from the Sun’s atmosphere. The eruptions took place over a period of three days, starting on Jan. 17, 2013. Nathalia Alzate, a solar scientist at the University of Aberystwyth in Wales, presented findings on what caused the puffs at the 2014 Royal Astronomical Society’s National Astronomy Meeting in Portsmouth, England.

The sun’s outermost atmosphere, the corona, is made of magnetized solar material, called plasma, that has a temperature of millions of degrees and extends millions of miles into space. On January 17, the joint European Space Agency and NASA’s Solar and Heliospheric Observatory, or SOHO, spacecraft observed puffs emanating from the base of the corona and rapidly exploding outwards into interplanetary space. The puffs occurred roughly once every three hours. After about 12 hours, a much larger eruption of material began, apparently eased out by the smaller-scale explosions.

By looking at high-resolution images taken by NASA’s NASA Solar Dynamics Observatory (Little SDO), or SDO, and NASA’s Solar Terrestrial Relations Observatory, or STEREO, over the same time period and in different wavelengths, Alzate and her colleagues could focus on the cause of the puffs and the interaction between the small and large-scale eruptions.

“Looking at the corona in extreme ultraviolet light we see the source of the puffs is a series of energetic jets and related flares,” said Alzate. “The jets are localized, catastrophic releases of energy that spew material out from the sun into space. These rapid changes in the magnetic field cause flares, which release a huge amount of energy in a very short time in the form of super-heated plasma, high-energy radiation and radio bursts. The big, slow structure is reluctant to erupt, and does not begin to smoothly propagate outwards until several jets have occurred.”

Because the events were observed by multiple spacecraft, each viewing the sun from a different perspective, Alzate and her colleagues were able to resolve the three-dimensional configuration of the eruptions. This allowed them to estimate the forces acting on the slow eruption and discuss possible mechanisms for the interaction between the slow and fast phenomena.

“We still need to understand whether there are shock waves, formed by the jets, passing through and driving the slow eruption,” said Alzate. “Or whether magnetic reconfiguration is driving the jets allowing the larger, slow structure to slowly erupt. Thanks to recent advances in observation and in image processing techniques we can throw light on the way jets can lead to small and fast, or large and slow, eruptions from the Sun.”

Van Gogh painted rather unusual images of the Sun and stars; Turner painted perhaps more life-like images.   There are many interesting views of the Sun in art, by Monet, and many, many others.

Vincent van Gogh,

Vincent van Gogh, “Sower with the Setting Sun”

But who conceived of any image like this one from NASA, above?

What private entity could ever do that?  

J. M. W. Turner,

J. M. W. Turner, “Caernarvon Castle,” 1799

Claude Monet,

Claude Monet, “Impression Sunrise”

British biologist J. B. S. Haldane said:

I have no doubt that in reality the future will be vastly more surprising than anything I can imagine. Now my own suspicion is that the Universe is not only queerer than we suppose, but queerer than we can suppose.

♦   Possible Worlds and Other Papers (1927), p. 286

Haldane may as well have added, the universe is not only more beautiful that we imagine, but more beautiful than we can imagine.  Reality trumps fiction yet again.


Milky Way over Arches N.P.

May 30, 2014

From the Department of Interior's Twitter feed:  Looking for a wow photo? This picture of the Milky Way over Natural Bridges Natl Monument should do the trick. pic.twitter.com/RfuDj7KXSA

From the Department of Interior’s Twitter feed: Looking for a wow photo? This picture of the Milky Way over Natural Bridges Natl Monument should do the trick. pic.twitter.com/RfuDj7KXSA

Owachomo Bridge?  Photographer?  I wish Interior would put in all the details with their photos.


Catch some falling stars (with help from NASA and USA Today)

May 20, 2014

USA Today does some great graphics from time to time.

This set comes as a preview to a special meteor shower — maybe — this weekend.

USA Today chart of meteor showers left in 2014, with star map of how to find Camelopardalid Shower this weekend.

USA Today chart of meteor showers left in 2014, with star map of how to find Camelopardalid Shower this weekend.

And just for this weekend:

Night of Shooting Stars, New meteor shower influenced by Jupiter's gravity -- USA Today starmap showing best place to look for meteoroids this weekend, the Camelopardalid Meteor Shower (first ever).

Night of Shooting Stars, New meteor shower influenced by Jupiter’s gravity — USA Today starmap showing best place to look for meteoroids this weekend, the Camelopardalid Meteor Shower (first ever).

So, early Saturday morning, or early Sunday morning, we could be in for a meteor shower display more intense than we’ve seen in a long time, experts say.

Or maybe not.

NASA’s explanation should help you find them (we found this video via Space.com):


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