comets

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Photography

An International Photo Competition Illuminates the Captivating and Remarkable Sights of Earth's Landscapes

February 8, 2022

Grace Ebert

Comet NeoWise Setting, Marin photographed by Tanmay Sapkal, Mt. Tamalpais, Marin, California, USA

From the brilliant dancing aurora of Iceland to Comet NeoWise hurtling above Mount Tamalpais, the winning shots of the 2021 International Landscape Photographer of the Year contest capture a diverse and captivating array of Earth’s topographies and phenomena. The annual competition is in its eighth year and garnered more than 4,500 entries centered on a variety of subject matter, including a mystical wood at Alcornocales Natural Park in Cadiz, the fairytale-esque flowers of France’s Vallée de la Clarée, and a wildlife fire in Yosemite National Park that appears more like a sunset on the horizon than massive blaze.

We’ve included our favorites from the 101 winners below, and you can see the entire collection on the contest’s site. For a deeper dive into the stories behind the photos, pick up a copy of the 2021 book.

 

Dancing Queen photographed by Roksolyana Hilevych, Arnarstapi, Iceland

Ghost Cave photographed by José D. Riquelme, Kirkjufell, Iceland

Silvia photographed by David Aguilar, Alcornocales Natural Park, Cadiz, Spain

Earth’s Calling photographed by Pierandrea Folle, Pollino National Park, Serra delle Ciavole, Italy

Party in the Valley photographed by Kassem Kalo, Vallée de la Clarée, France

The Cap on the Snowy Mountain photographed by Jana Luo, Tongariro National Park, New Zealand

Compelled by the Core photographed by Daniel Laan, Near Moddergat, the Netherlands

Fire photographed by Marcin Zajac, Yosemite National Park, USA

Primeval Arch and Columns photographed by Simon Xu, Mono Lake, Lee Vining, California, USA

Born of Fire photographed by Filip Hrebenda, Fagradalsfjall area, Iceland

Long To Be photographed by Kai Hornung, Highlands, Iceland

 

 



Photography

A Stunning Photo Documents the Colorful Comet Leonard Streaking Through the Nighttime Sky

January 3, 2022

Grace Ebert

Image © Andrew McCarthy, shared with permission

Set against a star-studded backdrop, Comet Leonard, aka the Chrismas Comet, blazed overhead on December 26, emitting a colorful stream of light that illuminated the dark skies. Andrew McCarthy (previously) documented the celestial body as it hurtled over the Arizona horizon and created this striking, magnified composite of 25 separate shots. The image, along with a wider photo shown below, captures the brilliant colors surrounding the nucleus as it flies 150,000 miles per hour through space. Comet Leonard was first spotted about 466 million miles away on January 3, 2021, and is making its closest pass to the sun exactly one year later, before it’s expelled from our solar system entirely.

McCarthy details his 12-minute process for documenting the body on PetaPixel—watch this clip to see how far the comet moved during that period—and explore his wide range of astrophotography on Instagram and his site, where he also sells prints.

 

 

 



Photography Science

Bright Comet NEOWISE Captured Shooting Above Mount Hood by Photographer Lester Tsai

July 16, 2020

Grace Ebert

All images © Lester Tsai, shared with permission

Throughout July, Comet NEOWISE has been visible to those in the northern hemisphere as it orbits the sun. Portland-based photographer Lester Tsai recently traveled to Mount Hood to capture the phenomena as it shoots over Oregon’s highest mountain in a remarkable set of images. One of the brightest comets in decades, NEOWISE won’t make another appearance in the inner solar system for 6,800 years.

Tsai recounted the experience, describing the necessary preparation and the efforts to determine the frozen object’s probable visibility. “The comet changes position each day but when I mapped it out, it looked like there was a good chance it would do what I needed it to. I had never been there (Mount Hood National Forest) before but was excited to check it out,” he shares with Colossal. Location is crucial for astrophotography, but factors like weather, the sun’s position, and the moon’s cycle have an effect, too. Light pollution from a nearby municipality also can brighten the sky too much for a clear shot.

After traveling through a dense forest in the middle of the night, Tsai found his spot on a nearby cliff and set up his equipment. “Based on the rough directional data I had, I knew the comet would rise to the left side of the mountain and make its way up and to the right. Because this was such an unprecedented and possibly once in a lifetime event, I decided to use one of my cameras to shoot a timelapse,” Tsai says.

He expected the comet to arrive around 2 a.m., and after waiting and worrying he’d missed it, NEOWISE finally made its appearance an hour later. “As the night went on, the sky began to slowly brighten and saturate with beautiful colors on the horizon. 3 a.m. passed, and as 4 a.m. arrived, the comet was almost directly over the mountain,” Tsai says. Thanks to his patience, the photographer was able to capture the fleeting body as it descends in the star-speckled sky.

Head to Instagram to follow Tsai’s explorations of nature’s phenomena, and check out this handy guide to see Comet NEOWISE for yourself. (via Moss and Fog)