astronomy

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Photography Science

A Remarkably Colorful Geminid Meteor Streaks Across the Sky in a Singular Astrophotograph by Dean Rowe

January 2, 2019

Laura Staugaitis

Colorado-based photographer Dean Rowe recently captured the spectacular sight of a colorful Rainbow Geminid Meteor streaking across the sky during December’s Geminid meteor shower. The image was shared on NASA’s Astronomy Picture of the Day earlier this month, and includes a helpful explanation from a professional astronomer:

The radiant grit cast off by asteroid 3200 Phaethon blazed a path across Earth’s atmosphere longer than 60 times the angular diameter of the Moon. Colors in meteors usually originate from ionized elements released as the meteor disintegrates, with blue-green typically originating from magnesium, calcium radiating violet, and nickel glowing green. Red, however, typically originates from energized nitrogen and oxygen in the Earth’s atmosphere.

Rowe, the photographer who documented this ephemeral moment, shares with Colossal that he has been interested in photography and astronomy since his early teens. He built his own telescope at the age of 13 which included grinding and polishing the mirror lens by hand. After a career in software engineering, Rowe has been investing in photography in retirement, with a focus on the wide world of nature. In addition to night and astrophotography, Rowe also frequently photographs hummingbirds in flight. You can see more of his work on his website, where prints are available for purchase, and his Facebook page.

 

 



Design History

An Appliqued Solar System Quilt Used as a Teaching Aid in the Late 19th century

November 29, 2018

Kate Sierzputowski

1876 Ellen Harding Baker’s “Solar System” Quilt, via The Smithsonian National Museum of American History

In the late 1800’s, teacher and astronomer Sarah Ellen Harding Baker spent seven years embroidering a star-covered quilt for her classroom in Cedar County, Iowa. In lieu of satellite images, the wool appliquéd quilt was created as a visual aid for her classroom to try to visualize the broad expanse of the universe. The design of the quilt is similar to illustrations in astronomy books of the time. It features a bright sun at its center, with several planets moving around the large star with their own orbiting moons, and Halley’s Comet streaking into the upper lefthand corner.

The piece was finished in 1876, a time when astronomy was presented as an “acceptable” interest for a women. This might have been the reason it was a popular theme for quilts of the time according to The Smithsonian National Museum of American History, where the quilt is currently stored. You can find several celestial examples in quilt historian Barbara Brackman’s Solar System Quilt post on her blog Material Culture. (via Open Culture)

 

 



Photography

A Stunning View of the Northern Lights over Iceland Reflected in a Volcanic Crater Lake

March 7, 2017

Christopher Jobson

Last month photographer Sigurdur William camped out at the edge of the Kerid volcanic crater lake in Iceland where he captured this unusual view of the Northern lights and stars reflected on the water’s surface. Located in southern Iceland the Kerid is one of many crater lakes in the area that are frequented by locals and tourists alike, some of which visit through William’s photography tour business ArcticShots. (via Astronomy Picture of the Day)

 

 



Photography

Composite Image of the Moon Taken from 47 Photos Reveals Solar Corona During a Total Solar Eclipse

May 9, 2013

Christopher Jobson

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Shot by Czech photographer Miloslav Druckmüller from the Brno University of Technology, these amazing composite images capture the moon during a total solar eclipse revealing a vast solar corona. To achieve the crystal clear effect the shots are comprised from some 40+ photos taken with two different lenses. Additional clarity was achieved due to the incredibly remote location chosen to view the eclipse from, a pier just outside the Enewetak Radiological Observatory on the Marshall Islands, smack dab in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. You can see several more images from the project at Druckmüller’s website and don’t miss this much higher resolution version including some 209 stars. All images courtesy the photographer. (via this isn’t happiness)

 

 



Photography Science

Alan Friedman’s Astonishing HD Photographs of the Sun Shot from his Own Backyard

February 13, 2013

Christopher Jobson

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Alan Friedman is a fascinating guy. By day he’s a maker of greeting cards and a lover of hats, but in his spare time he’s a self-proclaimed space cowboy who points a telescope skyward from his backyard in downtown Buffalo, directly into the light of the sun. Using special filters attached to his camera Friedman captures some of the most lovely details of the Sun’s roiling surface. The raw images are colorless and often blurry requiring numerous hours of coloring, adjusting and finessing to tease out the finest details, the results of which hardly resemble what I imagine the 5,500 degree (Celsius) surface of Sun might look like. Instead Friedman’s photos appear almost calm and serene, perhaps an entire planet of fluffy clouds or cotton candy. From his artist statement:

My photographs comprise a solar diary, portraits of a moment in the life of our local star. Most are captured from my backyard in Buffalo, NY. Using a small telescope and narrow band filters I can capture details in high resolution and record movements in the solar atmosphere that change over hours and sometimes minutes. The raw material for my work is black and white and often blurry. As I prepare the pictures, color is applied and tonality is adjusted to better render the features. It is photojournalism of a sort. The portraits are real, not painted. Aesthetic decisions are made with respect for accuracy as well as for the power of the image.

Although the photos above are amazing, Friedman offers extremely high-resolution views of his work on his Tumblr and you can pick up some prints over on Photo-Eye. He also recently gave a TEDx Talk. (via geocentrismo)

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Science

Stunning New Time Lapse Video from the International Space Station

November 12, 2011

Christopher Jobson

A few weeks ago a beautiful time lapse video shot from the International Space Station made the rounds. When I saw this new video pop up on Vimeo I assumed it was the same thing, but immediately realized it was something wholly more incredible, not to mention five times longer. This new (or newly edited?) video was shot with a special low-light 4K-camera by the crew of expeditions 28 and 29 onboard the ISS from August to October, 2011 and captures numerous shots of the Aurora Borealis. I recommend clicking HD full-screen for this one.

 

 



Design

Moon Cheese Packaging

August 14, 2011

Christopher Jobson

A clever self-initiated project by UK design student Tim Sumner, who designed this unique packaging around the myth of the moon being made from cheese. I can imagine a thousand ways this could have been poorly executed, and this solution is surprisingly beautiful. (via lovely package)