Tag: astrophotography

Reflecting on the ISS

By Phil Plait | October 17, 2011 10:12 am

Randy Halverson is an astrophotographer who takes gorgeous pictures of the sky and puts them together into amazing time lapse videos (see Related Posts below for links to his work). On Google+ this morning he posted a picture he took last night, and it’s simply stunning: the International Space Station rising into the Milky Way, with both reflected on a lake’s still waters:

[Click to embiggen.]

What a fantastic shot! I’ve tried getting similar pictures, but never managed to get one as nice as this. It takes dark skies; Randy was about 300 km west of Sioux Falls, South Dakota when he took it, where there’s almost no light pollution. The Milky Way is obvious; you can see the bulge of the central region of the galaxy, and the disk tapering off to the top of the frame. Pictures like this are always a good reminder that we live in the mid-plane of a big spiral galaxy.

When Randy got this shot the ISS was rising over the southwestern horizon. 100 meters across, 380 km up, and moving at 8 km/sec, the station reflects a lot of sunlight and moves rapidly enough to create a bright streak in short time exposures… and bright enough to create a strong reflection in the water.

A funny thing: as I looked over the picture, I saw a faint streak not too far from the ISS. Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Astronomy, Cool stuff, Pretty pictures

The Milky Way from the top of the world

By Phil Plait | September 20, 2011 10:30 am

[UPDATE (February 2, 2012): It has come to my attention that the photograph that was posted here has most likely been manipulated during post-processing to a degree that is unacceptable. Because of that, I have taken it down. I do not take this action lightly, but until more information is forthcoming I think it’s best this way. National Geographic has a brief statement about this on their website as well.]

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Astronomy, Pretty pictures

Royal Observatory astronomy photographer of the year chosen

By Phil Plait | September 12, 2011 6:53 am

The UK Royal Observatory Greenwich has chosen its annual Best Astrophotographer of the Year. The recipient for 2011 is Damian Peach, for this stunning shot of our solar system’s largest planet:

Wow! [Click to enjoviante.] The detail in the clouds is amazing, and it always shocks me that features on the moons can be seen from here on Earth (that’s Ganymede to the upper right and Io to the lower left).

Now, that’s a beautiful picture, and my congrats to Damian for it. But I have to admit, I’m partial to deep-sky shots, and so I was glad to see Rogelio Bernal Andreo’s incredible "Orion from Head to Toe" make the list as well; after all, I picked it as my Top Astronomy Picture of 2010!

How flippin’ awesome is that? Click it to get a very massively embiggened version, which is well worth your time grabbing. It’s simply amazing. My favorite bit is the (ironically) ghostly-blue Witch Head Nebula at the upper right. Why is it called that? Heh: look at the bigger version to see. You’ll figure it out.

You should look at all the winning entries at the ROG site. And if you think you can do better, then get ready for next year’s contest! And if you happen to be in Greenwich, you should drop by the observatory; they have the winners on display until February 2012.

Related posts:

The Top 14 Astronomy Pictures of 2010
Top Ten Astronomy Pictures of 2009
Top Ten Astronomy Pictures of 2008
Top Ten Astronomy Pictures of 2007
Top Ten Astronomy Pictures of 2006

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Astronomy, Pretty pictures

Celestron's Capture the Universe 2010 Astrophoto winners!

By Phil Plait | December 1, 2010 8:44 am

Use the arrows next to the filmstrip to navigate, and click the thumbnails to see bigger versions of all these magnificent pictures! You can also click the big picture to advance to the next one.


Celestron astrophotography contest starts today!

By Phil Plait | October 1, 2010 7:11 am

I’m very pleased to announce that once again, Discover Magazine and the venerable telescope company Celestron have teamed up for the Capture the Universe astrophotography contest!


The rules are pretty simple. Just like last year, you have to register on the Celestron images website, read the rules, and then enter your picture(s). An important caveat: at least one piece of equipment you use must have Celestron optics.

celestron_winner2009Once again, my mind control beam has worked perfectly: Discover Magazine and Celestron picked me to judge the entries. I won’t tell you outright what might win and what might not, but like last year, I’m looking for beautiful images, interesting images, out-of-the-ordinary images. For example, the picture to the left won last year because it was such a cool idea – the photographer took a picture of every planet in the solar system (except Earth, and, for you diehards, Pluto) and the Sun all in the same 24 hour period, then put them together in this montage. You can also check out the other images from last year, too. They’re all really amazing shots.


The contest prizes are very nice: a Celestron Nexstar 8SE telescope (retail value: $1199) for the Grand Prize, an Axiom LX31 eyepiece ($399) for the Runner Up, and a 50th Anniversary First Scope ($70) for the Viewers’ Choice picture.

The contest starts TODAY, October 1, 2010 and ends on October 30, 2010. So get out there and start snapping.

Clear skies, everyone!


Discover's Newsletter

Sign up to get the latest science news delivered weekly right to your inbox!


See More

Collapse bottom bar