Fancy yourself a photographer? Then you might want to enter the 2012 International Earth and Sky Photo Contest, which is being held to promote the importance of dark skies.
It’s being organized by three groups of which I highly approve; The World at Night, Global Astronomy Month (part of Astronomers Without Borders), and the National Optical Astronomy Observatory. As they say on the site, the idea is:
Submitted photographs must be created in the "TWAN style" — showing both the Earth and the sky — by combining elements of the night sky (e.g., stars, planets, the Moon or celestial events) set against the backdrop of a beautiful, historic, or notable location or landmark. This style of photography is called "landscape astrophotography". This is similar to general "Nightscape Photography" but with more attention to the sky, astronomical perspectives, and celestial phenomena.
There’s lots more info on the site itself. The contest closes on April 22, so get cracking! And don’t forget you have the perfect opportunity to the west over the next couple of days for a fantastic night scene.
Image credit: Babak Tafreshi and TWAN
The Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer was turned off a few months ago, but the science it did lives on. NASA just released a gallery of nine spiral galaxy images taken by WISE, and they’re lovely:
[Click to galactinate.]
Several of my favorite big, grand design spirals are there, like M51, M81, and M83. Note that since WISE only sees infrared light, these are false color images; the colors used are blue for 3.4 micron IR light, cyan for 4.6 microns, green for 12 microns, and red for 22 microns. The reddest light a human eye can see is very roughly 0.75 microns, to give you a comparison. In the images, star-forming regions are yellowish and/or pink, dust (in the form of long-chain organic molecules called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons) is green, and old stars are blue.
While looking over the images, I actually recognized the name of the one in the lower right: IC 342 (here’s a full-res WISE shot of it). This is part of a small group of galaxies near our Milky Way that is heavily obscured by dust in our galaxy. Read More