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Photography

Stunning Photographs Capture the International Space Station Traveling Across the Sun and Moon

November 6, 2020

Grace Ebert

All images © Andrew McCarthy, shared with permission

Back in October, Sacramento-based photographer Andrew McCarthy staked out in his backyard to document the International Space Station on one of its trips across the sun. Using two scopes, he successfully captured the image, which frames the station in the upper left corner of the fiery mass.

Two weeks later, he repeated that process: “Yesterday morning after spending hours scouting for the right location, I set up my gear on the side of a road hoping to capture something I’ve never seen before. The ISS, illuminated by daylight, transiting a razor-thin crescent moon,” he writes on Instagram. McCarthy’s endeavor is particularly impressive because when standing on Earth, the ISS passes both celestial bodies in less than a second.

Prints of McCarthy’s stunning photographs are available from Image Kind. He also offers digital wallpapers and updates on his latest projects and celestial happenings on Patreon. (via PetaPixel)

 

 

 



Photography Science

Mesmerizing Shots of Distant Galaxies and Aurorae Top the Astronomy Photographer of the Year Contest

September 16, 2020

Grace Ebert

“Andromeda Galaxy at Arm’s Length?” © Nicolas Lefaudeux (France), galaxies winner and overall winner. “Have you ever dreamt of touching a galaxy? This version of the Andromeda Galaxy seems to be at arm’s length among clouds of stars. Unfortunately, this is just an illusion, as the galaxy is still 2 million light-years away. In order to obtain the tilt-shift effect, the photographer 3D-printed a part to hold the camera at an angle at the focus of the telescope. The blur created by the defocus at the edges of the sensor gives this illusion of closeness to Andromeda.”

The 2020 Insight Investment Astronomy Photographer of the Year contest gathers a trove of sublime shots capturing otherwise unseen phenomena and distant fixtures of outer space. With more than 5,000 entries from six continents, the 12th annual competition includes Nicolas Lefaudeux’s photograph of the Andromeda Galaxy two million light-years away, one by Rafael Schmall that frames the lit trails of Elon Musk’s Starlink satellites, and another of the Aurora Borealis reflecting on the ice by Kristina Makeeva (previously).

Starting October 23, 2020, the top photographs will be on display at the National Maritime Museum. Until then, pick up a copy of this year’s book that collects all 140 winning and shortlisted shots, and explore some of Colossal’s favorites below.

 

“Iceland “© Kristina Makeeva (Russia) aurorae highly commended. “Winters in Iceland require some training in terms of wind protection equipment. Iceland is a country with very strong winds, so a stable tripod is required to shoot the aurora. Many astrophotographers wait in a certain place for several hours to capture the Aurora Borealis. The photographer was lucky in this instance as she waited near Diamond Beach where the reflection of the aurora on the ice was beautiful.”

 

“The Prison of Technology” © Rafael Schmall (Hungary), people and space winner. “The star in the centre of the image is the Albireo double star, surrounded by the trails of moving satellites. How many more might there be by the time we reach next year’s competition? There could be thousands of moving dots in the sky. In order to create astrophotos, photographers have to carefully plan where to place the telescope, and this will be more difficult in the future with more satellites in the way.”

 

“Light Bridge in the Sky” © Xiuquan Zhang (China), aged 12, young competition highly commended. “The photographer visited Iceland with his mother in 2019. The sky there is wonderful every night. The photographer had never seen such a scene before! The aurora is magical, as you can see in this photo.”

 

“Cosmic Inferno” © Peter Ward (Australia), stars and nebulae winner. “NGC 3576 is a well-known nebula in southern skies but is shown here without any stars. The software reveals just the nebula, which has been mapped into a false color palette. The scene takes on the look of a celestial fire-maelstrom. The image is intended to reflect media images taken in Australia during 2019 and 2020, where massive bushfires caused the destruction of native forests and have claimed over 12 million acres of land. It shows nature can act on vast scales and serves as a stark warning that our planet needs nurturing.”

 

“Desert Magic” © Stefan Leibermann (Germany), skyscapes runner up. “The photographer took this image during a trip through Jordan. He stayed for three days in the desert at Wadi Rum. During the night, the photographer tried to capture the amazing starry sky over the desert. He used a star tracker device to capture the sky. The photographer found this red dune as a foreground and captured the imposing Milky Way centre in the sky.”

 

“Observe the Heart of the Galaxy” © Tian Li (China), people and space runner up. “This image depicts the photographer climbing the radio telescope and Mingantu solar radio telescope array. First, the photographer tested and moved his camera so that the M8 and M20 nebulae would appear right next to the telescope. After taking the foreground image, he moved his camera a little bit but still pointing at the same location in the sky, and captured the background with an equatorial mount.”

 

“Tycho Crater Region with Colours” © Alain Paillou (France), our moon winner. “The Tycho crater is one of the most famous craters on the Moon. This huge impact has left very impressive scars on the Moon’s surface. With the colours of the soils, Tycho is even more impressive. This picture combines one session with a black-and-white camera, to capture the details and sharpness, and one session with a colour camera, to capture the colours of the soils. These colours come mainly from metallic oxides in small balls of glass and can give useful information about the Moon’s geology and history. The blue shows a high titanium oxide concentration and the red shows high iron oxide concentration. This picture reveals the incredible beauty and complexity of our natural satellite.”

 

“The Green Lady” © Nicholas Roemmelt (Germany), aurorae winner. “The photographer had heard a lot of stories about the ‘lady in green’. Although he has had the chance to photograph the Northern Lights many times, he had never seen the ‘green lady’ before. On a journey to Norway, she unexpectedly appeared with her magical green clothes making the whole sky burn with green, blue, and pink colours.”

 

“The Dolphin Jumping out of an Ocean of Gas” © Connor Matherne (USA), stars and nebulae runner up. “This target is officially known as Sh2-308, but the photographer has always enjoyed calling it the Dolphin Nebula. It is a bubble of gas being shed by the bright blue star in the centre of the image as it enters its pre-supernova phase. The red star to the right could possibly be influencing the shape too and might be responsible for the bill of the dolphin. While it won’t explode in our lifetimes, seeing the warning signs are quite neat. It never hurts to say that the warning signs are the most beautiful part of this particular target!”

 

 



Design Science

Get a Meteorite-Speckled Slab of the Moon’s Surface Made with NASA Data

March 28, 2020

Grace Ebert

All images © DeskSpace

Most of us will never get to touch the moon’s outer crust, but a new project by DeskSpace lets people pretend they’ve got a little portion of the crater-covered satellite sitting on their desks or hung up on their walls. Designed using data from NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, the Lunar Surface is a square piece of portland concrete that’s natural bubbles form ridges and dips that mimic the divets caused by meteorites.

The astronomical project commemorates humans’ first steps on the moon. “It was 50 years ago that the first Apollo landing took place. With such an important anniversary, we understand that space enthusiasts need special items for their collections,” DeskSpace said. There are just a few options left for purchase on Kickstarter, but you can stay up to date with future space-themed releases on DeskSpace’s site.

 

 



Photography

Sinister Sunrise Captured by Photographer Elias Chasiotis During an Eclipse in Qatar

January 3, 2020

Andrew LaSane

All images © Elias Chasiotis

Athens-based photographer Elias Chasiotis was visiting Qatar in late December 2019 when he captured a photo of an annular eclipse that has since gone viral. Taken at sunrise as a part of a series, the image shows the moon covering the center of a red sun. The timing of the photograph turns the crimson star into curved horns emerging from the horizon.

A self-identified astrophotographer and amateur astronomer, Chasiotis tells Colossal that the conditions were hazy on the morning of December 26 when the photographs were taken. The haze gave the sun its red glow, but as NASA astronomer explained on the Astronomy Picture of the Day blog, the Earth’s atmosphere helped create the full image: “The dark circle near the top of the atmospherically-reddened Sun is the Moon — but so is the dark peak just below it. This is because along the way, the Earth’s atmosphere had an inversion layer of unusually warm air which acted like a gigantic lens and created a second image.”

Chasiotis continued to photograph the eclipse as the sun rose, writing on Facebook that the “annular phase was blocked by clouds, but the red crescent sunrise was the most awesome sunrise I’ve ever seen!”

 

 



Design Photography Science

Chart-Like Composite Photographs by Dan Marker-Moore Show the Progression of the 2019 Solar Eclipse

August 12, 2019

Laura Staugaitis

Los Angeles-based photographer Dan Marker-Moore (previously) flew south to document the solar eclipse that occurred in Chile on July 2, 2019. While many professional photographers also documented the event, most images capture the singular moment in one image. Marker-Moore decided to break out the progression in orderly chart-like designs. He shares with Colossal that he experimented with over one hundred different format variants before deciding on the final five. Each image contains between 26 and 425 photos of the sun. Read more about Marker-Moore’s trip and the equipment he used here, and find prints of his eclipse series in his online store. The photographer also shares new work on Instagram.

 

 



Animation

A New Stop Motion Animation Chronicles a Captain's Final Journey to the Moon

July 30, 2019

Kate Sierzputowski

The Moon’s Milk is a fantastical stop motion tale by animator Ri Crawford that follows Captain Millipede on his final trip to extract milk from the moon as it begins to separate itself from the Earth. During the journey, relationships between the expedition members complicate, while enchanting connections happen in the liminal space between the sea and moon. The film presents two unique views—the one from the Earth, and the flipped perspective seen from the moon. The score for the film was created by Caroline Penwarden, the sound design by Richard Beggs, and singer Tom Waits served as the story’s narrator. You can take a look behind-the-scenes of film in the video below, and see more of his animations on Vimeo. (via Laughing Squid)

Update: The Moon’s Milk narrative is originally told in “The Distance to the Moon,” a short story written in 1968 by the iconic Cuban-Italian author Italo Calvino. You can listen to actor Liev Schreiber read the story in its entirety on Radiolab.

 

 

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