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Photography Science

140,000 Visuals of Outer Space are Free to the Public in NASA’s Image Library

June 12, 2019

Laura Staugaitis

Backlit wisps along the Horsehead Nebula upper ridge are being illuminated by Sigma Orionis, a young five-star system just off the top of this image from the Hubble Space Telescope

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has created a library of 140,000 high definition files filled with photos, videos, and sound clips, all free and available for download. Visual and audio content of planets, moons, nebulas, and specific space missions, are searchable by file type. The library spans the last hundred years, and users can narrow searches to focus on any timeframe between 1920 and 2019. Each file also contains a thorough caption including the date and contextual information about the content. Explore the library on NASA’s dedicated website and see more updates from space on the Administration’s official Instagram. (via fubiz)

Composite image of southern Africa and the surrounding oceans captured by six orbits of the NASA/NOAA Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership spacecraft

Hubble Space Telescope, the Spitzer Space Telescope, and the Chandra X-ray Observatory produced a matched trio of images of the central region of our Milky Way galaxy

Hubble space telescope captures vivid auroras in Jupiter’s atmosphere

This view from the Mast Camera (Mastcam) in NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover shows an outcrop with finely layered rocks within the ‘Murray Buttes’ region on lower Mount Sharp

Hubble space telescope captures Mystic Mountain in the Carina Nebula

This view of Jupiter was taken by Voyager 1. This image was taken through color filters and recombined to produce the color image

Moon – North Polar Mosaic, Color

 

 



Art Photography

Photograph of Multicolored “Cloud” Galaxy by Amateur Photographers Combines 1,060 Hours of Exposure

May 4, 2019

Andrew LaSane

A group of French amateur astrophotographers called Ciel Austral (“Southern Sky”) have shared a 240-megapixel image of the Large Magellan Cloud (LMC). Constructed using 4,000 images, the seamless collage required over 1,060 hours of exposures. Together, the images form a massive digital poster with colorful explosions and pockets of cosmic dust that resemble watercolors dripped and blown across an inky black surface.

The individual photos that make up the 14,400-pixel-wide image were captured between July 2017 and February 2019 using a 160mm refracting telescope at an observatory in Chile that is owned by the photographers. The colors in the image are not what you would see if you traveled 163,000 light years to get LMC. Ciel Austral used special filters that (based on which elements are present) highlight parts of the visual spectrum. The resulting swirling hues are best appreciated in close-ups like the ones below. To see the full size image in all of its glory, head over to the Ciel Austral website.

 

 



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 Science

A Million Dazzling Stars Are Revealed in a New Infrared Photograph of the Carina Nebula

September 17, 2018

Laura Staugaitis

A new photograph of the Carina Nebula, a complex group of bright and dark nebulae in the constellation Carina, has just been released by the European Southern Observatory. The original image is 140 megapixels, which clocks in as a 344MB download (don’t try this at home, kids) and contains about one million stars.

As explained by astronomer and science communicator Phil Plait, “The colors you see here are not what you’d see with your eye, since it’s all infrared. What’s shown as blue is actually 0.88 microns, or a wavelength just outside what your eye can see. Green is really 1.25 microns and red is 2.15, so both are well into the near-infrared. Even in the infrared, a lot of gas and dust still are visible. That’s because there’s a whole bunch of it here. And it’s not just randomly strewn around; patterns are there when you look for them.”

Plait continues on to clarify that the purpose of such an impressive photo isn’t just for eye candy: astronomers use such images to conduct star censuses. Below are two details of the photo, where you can get a better sense of the extreme density of stars captured in the massive image. (via Kottke)

 

 



Photography

A Bright Mars and its Golden Reflection Captured off the Coast of Rhode Island

July 18, 2018

Kate Sierzputowski

Last week Boston-based astrophotographer Abdul Dremali captured a glowing Mars as it rose above a Rhode Island beach. In the image it rests just beneath the overhead Milky Way as its powerful reflection forges a golden streak in the water below. Currently the red planet is its brightest since 2003 when it was closer to Earth than it had been in 60,000 years.

“I drove down to Rhode Island for the new moon since that’s the best time to catch the Milky Way,” Dremali tells Colossal. “I knew Mars was near opposition, so I timed to be out there by 10pm when Mars was rising. I’ve captured Mars many times throughout this Milky Way season, but due to a severe Martian storm, and it being so close, it’s brighter than ever.”

Two months ago Dremali photographed Mars from Monument Valley, and then in Joshua Tree National Park just a few days later. If you want to try your own astrophotography make sure to look for what appears to be a bright red star from now until September 7. Mars will temporarily shine brighter than Jupiter, securing a place as the fourth-brightest object in the sky. You can view more of Dremali’s star-spotted images on his Instagram and Twitter, and browse prints for sale in his online shop. (via PetaPixel)

Mars captured in Joshua Tree National Park by Abdul Dremali

Mars captured in Joshua Tree National Park by Abdul Dremali

Mars captured in Monument Valley by Abdul Dremali

Mars captured in Monument Valley by Abdul Dremali

 

 



Animation

A Mt. Everest Time-Lapse Combines a Decade of Himalayan Explorations

June 8, 2018

Kate Sierzputowski

Adventurer and filmmaker Elia Saikaly has attempted to scale Mt. Everest seven times. Twice he has reached the mountain’s summit, while other times he has survived avalanches, an earthquake, and other life-affirming events during his climbs. Saikaly’s latest short film is a combination of footage from a decade worth of trips to Mt. Everest and the Himalayas. The collected time-lapse videos explore several aspects of the climb, from shots of lights inside the small tents pitched for frigid nights, to brilliant star formations and unexpected waves of cloud cover. You can discover more about his adventures, and the making of this video in particular, via his blog and Instagram. (via Vimeo Staff Picks)

 

 

 



Photography

Swirling Star Trails Captured Over the Namib Desert by Daniel Kordan

May 8, 2018

Kate Sierzputowski

Russian photographer Daniel Kordan is a master of photographing the cosmos. In 2016 we covered his journey to the Salar de Uyuni, where he captured millions of brilliantly hued stars reflected in the world’s largest salt flat. Recently, Kordan returned from a trip to Namibia where he mapped swirling trails of stars above the Deadvlei, a white clay pan speckled with the 900-year-old tree skeletons, and other sites across the Namib desert.

The images feature vortexes of multi-colored stars streaked across the sky like post-impressionist paintings. The Milky Way’s warm and cool tones intermix to create a kaleidoscopic vision of the sky above, and illuminate the barren desert landscape below. To capture such images yourself, Kordan suggests creating a time-lapse with a wide angle lens, and utilizing an app like PhotoPills which allows you to easily predict the position of the stars.

You can see more of Kordan’s exploration through Namibia in the images below, and view his photographs from other locations across the globe on his website and Instagram.