Oh my, another amazing time lapse of the night sky: Nocturnal, by photographer Colin Legg (whose work we’ve seen here before on the BABlog), shows southern skies wheeling and turning majestically overhead.
[Note: For reasons I don't understand, the wrong video was linked here originally. It's fixed now, and I apologize for that.]
Yegads. Pay attention at the 30 second mark as the Southern Cross and Alpha and Beta Centauri rise above a mountain, then at 40 seconds when Comet Lovejoy rises dramatically over the horizon, and again at 49 seconds when a meteor zips across the sky, leaving a persistent train that gets whipped and frothed by high-altitude winds.
In fact, just pay attention to the whole thing. It’s gorgeous. And I’m not alone: this video won the best animation category of the 2012 David Malin awards. Malin is one of the best astrophotographers who has ever lived, so this is a prestigious recognition indeed. And well-deserved.
Tip o’ the lens cap to Colin Legg himself for letting me know about it.
Reports are starting to come in that Comet Lovejoy is fading rapidly, which isn’t too surprising. As it gets farther from the Sun it gets colder, and the ice on its surface doesn’t turn into gas quite so vigorously. It’s the cloud of expanding gas that reflects sunlight and makes a comet bright, so there you go.
Still, astrophotographer Colin Legg managed to get enough shots to make this wonderful time lapse animation of Lovejoy as seen over Esperance, Australia on the evening of December 26/27:
Make sure you make it high resolution, and watch it full screen. The movement of the sky you see here is due to the rotation of the Earth, of course, but if you look carefully you can see the head of the comet moving a small amount relative to the stars.
So it looks like we northern hemispherians may never get a good look at Lovejoy… but you never know. Comets are difficult to predict, and Lovejoy has proven itself to be feisty. I wouldn’t bet on it, but I’ll keep my ear to the ground and my eyes to the sky just in case.
Tip o’ the Whipple Shield to Fraser Cain on Google+.