Insta-Millard, photography and astronomy edition: South DakotaHenge

December 23, 2013

How much image manipulation, if any, was necessary to capture this enormous-looking Moon rising over a South Dakota “road to nowhere,” close to the 2013 Winter Solstice?

From @GlobePics:

From @GlobePics: “Road To Nowhere – Supermoon” – Supermoon rises over this road to nowhere in eastern South Dakota. pic.twitter.com/82AoFgPvWn

Who should get credit for the photo?  (I can’t quite read the name in the lower left corner.)

Buy a print here, from the photographer, Aaron J. Groen.

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Who is Tim Pangos?

December 19, 2013

Ha. I am amused at people so anxious to take material from this blog, or complain about something I’ve written, that they can’t be bothered to look around for names of the blog, or author, or otherwise look for proper attribution.

I’ve been called “Tim Panogos” several times, “Tim Pagonos” a few.  I’ve had a few zombies from Santayana’s nightmares insist on calling me Millard.

This is to note that the humor will continue:  Now my photos are credited to “Tim Pangos.”  To be sure, it’s posted by LatinaMom.  Happy to be able to hold on to multicultural appeal.

Here's my photo, as featured at

Here’s my photo, as featured at “Funny Bumperstickers” by Latina Mom. ” Zombies. They’ll get you every time. Image via Tim Pangos.  Photo and original post by Ed Darrell at Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub — use of photos encouraged, with attribution.  This photo from my iPhone, by the way.

For the record, the URL of this blog features the name of that great Utah landmark, Mount Timpanogos.  I do not intentionally use the pseudonyms “Tim Panagos,” “Tim Pangos,” nor any other derivative from the mountain’s moniker.


There’s a Milky Way in Australia?

November 26, 2013

Yes, but it’s upside down, right?

Meredith Frost Tweeted: Great shot of the Milky Way over Western Australia (Photo/Mike Salway) An Astronomy Picture of the DayMeredith Frost Tweeted: Great shot of the Milky Way over Western Australia (Photo/Mike Salway) An Astronomy Picture of the Day

Meredith Frost Tweeted: Great shot of the Milky Way over Western Australia (Photo/Mike Salway) An Astronomy Picture of the Day

Turns out this was the Astronomy Picture of the Day back in September 2012.  NASA said:

Milky Way Over the Bungle Bungles
Image Credit & Copyright: Mike Salway Explanation: Which part of this picture do you find more interesting — the land or the sky? Advocates for the land might cite the beauty of the ancient domes of the Bungle Bungle Range in Western Australia. These picturesque domes appear as huge layered beehives and are made of sandstones and conglomerates deposited over 350 million years ago. Advocates for the sky might laud the beauty of the Milky Way’s central band shown arching from horizon to horizon. The photogenic Milky Way band formed over 10 billion years ago and now includes many well-known nebulae and bright stars. Fortunately, you don’t have to decide and can enjoy both together in this beautiful 8-frame panorama taken from the dark skies of Purnululu National Park about two months ago.

Decide Anyway: Land or Sky

I’d make some remarks about silly names for land formations in Australia — but here we sit with The Grand Tetons, The Gros Ventre, and several dozen “Molly’s Nipples” in our nation.

But really:  Bungle-Bungles?

Ain’t geography grand? Ain’t nature grand? Ain’t NASA doing something right?

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NASA’s photo of the day the Earth smiled

November 13, 2013

NASA's caption:  On July 19, 2013, in an event celebrated the world over, NASA's Cassini spacecraft slipped into Saturn's shadow and turned to image the planet, seven of its moons, its inner rings -- and, in the background, our home planet, Earth. Image Credit:  NASA/JPL-Caltech/SSI

NASA’s caption: On July 19, 2013, in an event celebrated the world over, NASA’s Cassini spacecraft slipped into Saturn’s shadow and turned to image the planet, seven of its moons, its inner rings — and, in the background, our home planet, Earth. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SSI

It’s difficult to improve on NASA’s matter-of-fact explanations.

The Day the Earth Smiled

On July 19, 2013, in an event celebrated the world over, NASA’s Cassini spacecraft slipped into Saturn’s shadow and turned to image the planet, seven of its moons, its inner rings — and, in the background, our home planet, Earth.

With the sun’s powerful and potentially damaging rays eclipsed by Saturn itself, Cassini’s onboard cameras were able to take advantage of this unique viewing geometry. They acquired a panoramic mosaic of the Saturn system that allows scientists to see details in the rings and throughout the system as they are backlit by the sun. This mosaic is special as it marks the third time our home planet was imaged from the outer solar system; the second time it was imaged by Cassini from Saturn’s orbit; and the first time ever that inhabitants of Earth were made aware in advance that their photo would be taken from such a great distance.

With both Cassini’s wide-angle and narrow-angle cameras aimed at Saturn, Cassini was able to capture 323 images in just over four hours. This final mosaic uses 141 of those wide-angle images. Images taken using the red, green and blue spectral filters of the wide-angle camera were combined and mosaicked together to create this natural-color view. A brightened version with contrast and color enhanced, a version with just the planets annotated, and an unannotated version are also available.

This image spans about 404,880 miles (651,591 kilometers) across.

The outermost ring shown here is Saturn’s E ring, the core of which is situated about 149,000 miles (240,000  kilometers) from Saturn. The geysers erupting from the south polar terrain of the moon Enceladus supply the fine icy particles that comprise the E ring; diffraction by sunlight gives the ring its blue color. Enceladus (313 miles, or 504 kilometers, across) and the extended plume formed by its jets are visible, embedded in the E ring on the left side of the mosaic.

At the 12 o’clock position and a bit inward from the E ring lies the barely discernible ring created by the tiny, Cassini-discovered moon, Pallene (3 miles, or 4 kilometers, across). (For more on structures like Pallene’s ring, see PIA08328). The next narrow and easily seen ring inward is the G ring. Interior to the G ring, near the 11 o’clock position, one can barely see the more diffuse ring created by the co-orbital moons, Janus (111 miles, or 179 kilometers, across) and Epimetheus (70 miles, or 113 kilometers, across). Farther inward, we see the very bright F ring closely encircling the main rings of Saturn.

Following the outermost E ring counter-clockwise from Enceladus, the moon Tethys (662 miles, or 1,066 kilometers, across) appears as a large yellow orb just outside of the E ring. Tethys is positioned on the illuminated side of Saturn; its icy surface is shining brightly from yellow sunlight reflected by Saturn. Continuing to about the 2 o’clock position is a dark pixel just outside of the G ring; this dark pixel is Saturn’s Death Star moon, Mimas (246 miles, or 396 kilometers, across). Mimas appears, upon close inspection, as a very thin crescent because Cassini is looking mostly at its non-illuminated face.

The moons Prometheus, Pandora, Janus and Epimetheus are also visible in the mosaic near Saturn’s bright narrow F ring. Prometheus (53 miles, or 86 kilometers, across) is visible as a faint black dot just inside the F ring and at the 9 o’clock position. On the opposite side of the rings, just outside the F ring, Pandora (50 miles, or 81 kilometers, across) can be seen as a bright white dot. Pandora and Prometheus are shepherd moons and gravitational interactions between the ring and the moons keep the F ring narrowly confined. At the 11 o’clock position in between the F ring and the G ring, Janus (111 miles, or 179 kilometers, across) appears as a faint black dot. Janus and Prometheus are dark for the same reason Mimas is mostly dark: we are looking at their non-illuminated sides in this mosaic.  Midway between the F ring and the G ring, at about the 8 o’clock position, is a single bright pixel, Epimetheus. Looking more closely at Enceladus, Mimas and Tethys, especially in the brightened version of the mosaic, one can see these moons casting shadows through the E ring like a telephone pole might cast a shadow through a fog.

In the non-brightened version of the mosaic, one can see bright clumps of ring material orbiting within the Encke gap near the outer edge of the main rings and immediately to the lower left of the globe of Saturn. Also, in the dark B ring within the main rings, at the 9 o’clock position, one can see the faint outlines of two spoke features, first sighted by NASA’s Voyager spacecraft in the early 1980s and extensively studied by Cassini.

Finally, in the lower right of the mosaic, in between the bright blue E ring and the faint but defined G ring, is the pale blue dot of our planet, Earth. Look closely and you can see the moon protruding from the Earth’s lower right. (For a higher resolution view of the Earth and moon taken during this campaign, see PIA14949.) Earth’s twin, Venus, appears as a bright white dot in the upper left quadrant of the mosaic, also between the G and E rings.  Mars also appears as a faint red dot embedded in the outer edge of the E ring, above and to the left of Venus.

For ease of visibility, Earth, Venus, Mars, Enceladus, Epimetheus and Pandora were all brightened by a factor of eight and a half relative to Saturn. Tethys was brightened by a factor of four. In total, 809 background stars are visible and were brightened by a factor ranging from six, for the brightest stars, to 16, for the faintest. The faint outer rings (from the G ring to the E ring) were also brightened relative to the already bright main rings by factors ranging from two to eight, with the lower-phase-angle (and therefore fainter) regions of these rings brightened the most. The brightened version of the mosaic was further brightened and contrast-enhanced all over to accommodate print applications and a wide range of computer-screen viewing conditions.

Some ring features — such as full rings traced out by tiny moons — do not appear in this version of the mosaic because they require extreme computer enhancement, which would adversely affect the rest of the mosaic. This version was processed for balance and beauty.

This view looks toward the unlit side of the rings from about 17 degrees below the ring plane. Cassini was approximately 746,000 miles (1.2 million kilometers) from Saturn when the images in this mosaic were taken. Image scale on Saturn is about 45 miles (72 kilometers) per pixel.

This mosaic was made from pictures taken over a span of more than four hours while the planets, moons and stars were all moving relative to Cassini. Thus, due to spacecraft motion, these objects in the locations shown here were not in these specific places over the entire duration of the imaging campaign. Note also that Venus appears far from Earth, as does Mars, because they were on the opposite side of the sun from Earth.

The Cassini-Huygens mission is a cooperative project of NASA, the European Space Agency and the Italian Space Agency. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, manages the mission for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, Washington, D.C. The Cassini orbiter and its two onboard cameras were designed, developed and assembled at JPL. The imaging operations center is based at the Space Science Institute in Boulder, Colo.

For more information about the Cassini-Huygens mission visit http://www.nasa.gov/cassini and http://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov .

Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/SSI

Bigger image:

Cassini's view looking back from Saturn, on July 19, 2013, the day the Earth smiled. Click for much larger view.  NASA photo and annotations

Cassini’s view looking back from Saturn, on July 19, 2013, the day the Earth smiled. Click for much larger view. NASA photo and annotations

What do you think:  Tax money well spent?

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America’s wildlands: Sunset at Malheur NWR, Oregon

November 8, 2013

In Oregon, a scientist’s view from a field research station at Malheur National Wildlife Refuge.

Sunset at Malheur National Wildlife Refuge Field Station, Oregon, May 2012. Great eye and photo by Amanda Holland.

Sunset at Malheur National Wildlife Refuge Field Station, Oregon, May 2012. Great eye and photo by Amanda Holland.

A photo from the actions of President Theodore Roosevelt:

Malheur National Wildlife Refuge was established on August 18, 1908 by President Theodore Roosevelt as the Lake Malheur Bird Reservation. Roosevelt set aside unclaimed lands encompassed by Malheur, Mud and Harney Lakes “as a preserve and breeding ground for native birds.” The newly established “Lake Malheur Bird Reservation” was the 19th of 51 wildlife refuges created by Roosevelt during his tenure as president. At the time, Malheur was the third refuge in Oregon and one of only six refuges west of the Mississippi [six, then].

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English: Harney Lake and Malheur Lake in Orego...

NASA has a different viewpoint: Harney Lake and Malheur Lake in Oregon, USA NASA NLT Landsat 7 image. Final image made using NASA World Wind. Via Wikipedia


Something about a campfire, in Arches National Park

November 8, 2013

Campfire in Arches National Park, by John Dale

Photographer John Dale wrote: “We rolled in to Arches National Park to a beautiful sunset and got to our campsite just as it got dark, but that left us with a clear sky, plenty of stars, and a fire to warm up next to. Here’s a photo from the timelapse I took that night.”

From a photographer named John Dale, via Arches National Park’s Facebook page.

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Map of Arches National Park, Utah, United Stat...

Map of Arches National Park, Utah, United States showing predominant features such as arches, peaks, rivers and streams, mines, and roads. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Moon, stars, Earth, all conspire to produce astonishing beauty in Hawaii

November 5, 2013

It’s a composite of 11 photographs to get the whole panoramic view — which just demonstrates that in photography it’s great to be lucky, but it usually takes great skill to get that amount of luck.

How much processing was involved, really?

Don’t worry, just check out the photo.

Double Moonbow, lava glow and fading Lunar Halo; 11-picture Panoramic taken on the rim of Kilauea's Caldera On the Last Super Moon. Sean King, Atmospheric Phenomena

Double Moonbow, lava glow and fading Lunar Halo; 11-picture Panoramic taken on the rim of Kilauea’s Caldera On the Last Super Moon. Sean King, Atmospheric Phenomena

See the Facebook page for Hawaii Stargazing Adventures.

Click thumbnail for a larger image.  Kilauea and double Moonbow - Sean King - 736169_10201694350153369_1176409460_o


Fall colors at Great Sand Dunes National Park? White?

October 18, 2013

Looks like snow to me.  From the Department of Interior:

Fall colors have arrived at the Great Sand Dunes National Park.  Department of Interior

Fall colors have arrived at the Great Sand Dunes National Park. #nature #autumn #colorado pic.twitter.com/34RXSkuBLe


Sunrise at Hawk Mountain, Pennsylvania

October 4, 2013

Photograph posted on Facebook by the Hawk Mountain Sanctuary Association:

Sunrise at Hawk Mountain, Quelia Paulino, Hawk Mountain Sanctuary

Planning a trip to Hawk Mountain this weekend? Arrive early to enjoy great views of low-hanging fog and to see the sun peek out over the valley. It’s a great way to start any day. — with Quelia Paulino at Hawk Mountain Sanctuary Association.

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Two presidents, a study in blue

September 27, 2013

Pete Souza photo - Pres Obama talks backstage with Pres Clinton as Hillary Clinton waits to be introduced at CGI event 9-24-2013

White House photographer Pete Souza: ‏@petesouza 24 Sep Pres Obama talks backstage with Pres Clinton as Hillary Clinton waits to be introduced at CGI [Clinton Global Initiative] event today [September 24, 2013] pic.twitter.com/TCYqyxMZa8

Pete Souza’s work as White House photographer continues to fascinate me.  He’s got more opportunity than most of us have to get great shots — but he’s also got a keen eye for a good story-telling photo, and a good eye for great photo composition on the fly.

In this photo, Souza captures two presidents lost in conversation, bathed in blue stage lights, awaiting their time on the stage; but next up is Hillary Clinton, who will introduce them.  Mrs. Clinton awaits her cue.  The presidents met at the annual meetings for the Clinton Global Initiative.

Hold on to this photo; depending on events of 2016, it may yet have many more stories to tell.


Milky Way in the Southern Hemisphere

September 26, 2013

What’s the southernmost unit of the U.S. National Park System?  That’s where this photo was taken.

Stunning southern night sky in Ofu Island in the National Park of American Samoa! They get a brighter, richer view of the Milky Way in the Southern Hemisphere due to the location on the globe. This is the only national park found in the Southern Hemisphere.  Photo: National Park Service

Stunning southern night sky in Ofu Island in the National Park of American Samoa! They get a brighter, richer view of the Milky Way in the Southern Hemisphere due to the location on the globe. This is the only national park found in the Southern Hemisphere. Photo: National Park Service

Many Americans seem unaware of worldwide holdings of the U.S. in territories, thinking the last territory was closed when Oklahoma or Arizona entered the union, or maybe Alaska or Hawaii.  U.S. territories today include the Northern Mariana Islands, Guam (from the Spanish American War), Puerto Rico (from the same war), and the U.S. Virgin Islands, as organized territories.  American Samoa is an “unorganized territory,” along with series of other islands in the Pacific:  Baker Island, Howland Island, Palmyra Atoll, Johnson Atoll, Jarvis Island, Kingman Reef, the Midway Islands, and Wake Island; and in the Caribbean, Bajo Nuevo Bank, Navassa Island (also claimed by Haiti), and Serranilla Bank, also claimed by Colombia.

Most of these islands offer much better star-gazing than is ever possible in Dallas.

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Everglades National Park!

September 26, 2013

Sunset at Everglades National Park

Caption from Interior’s Tweet: Sometimes there are no words to describe America’s public lands. This photo @EvergladesNPS proves it. #Florida pic.twitter.com/3l7fnrcfsG

Everglades National Park, in Florida, is a great example of wild lands that belong to all Americans, that we almost let slip away.

I’m not sure a painter could do a more stunning version of this view.

More:

LocMap Everglades National Park

Location map: Everglades National Park in red. Wikipedia photo

 


Perfect autumn walk, Rachel Carson NWR

September 24, 2013

Department of Interior  Twitter Photo: Rachel Carson NWR in #Maine

US Dept of Interior Photo ‏@Interior: Rachel Carson NWR in #Maine is the perfect place to see the leaves change this time of year. #nature pic.twitter.com/5kL9EArPaA

While we’re talking about Rachel Carson’s legacy, gander at this gorgeous fall walk at the Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge, in Maine.

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Abrams Falls, Great Smoky Mountains National Park

September 19, 2013

Department of Interior Tweet: It doesn't get much prettier than this. Abrams Falls in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. #Tennessee pic.twitter.com/S5dQgcffEZ

US Dept of Interior ‏@Interior 16 Sep Department of Interior Tweet: It doesn’t get much prettier than this. Abrams Falls in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. #Tennessee pic.twitter.com/S5dQgcffEZ

There’s great beauty in many of the units of the U.S. National Park Service.  The Great Smoky Mountains National Park, one of the “crown jewels” of the Park System, has a few spots of beauty of its own.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Abrams Falls,

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We remember

September 11, 2013

Stunning photo of a snowy owl, taken by Frank K. Schleicher (who holds the copyright), and shared by the Hawk Mountain Sanctuary Association.

Most stunning in the photograph:  Look behind the owl.

Photo of snowy owl, looking across New York Harbor, by Frank K. Schleicher

Photo of snowy owl, looking across New York Harbor, by Frank K. Schleicher


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