Sunday, August 14, 2011

Astronomy Photos

One of the most exciting aspects of not having the sun is that you get the stars all the time! On top of that we've had regular auroras and a lunar eclipse in June. Here's a sampling of photos from other people on station. Unfortunately, my camera is not designed for long-exposure night photos (which is what it takes to get pictures like these). However, other people caught these events on film and placed them in a shared folder on the McMurdo network. I'm not able to give credit for most of them because I don't who took them, although if you are reading this and see your photos here, let me know and I'll add your name.

First, here are several photos of the aurora australis (southern lights). Sometimes auroras can be sharply defined and brilliant, and other times they can be fuzzy and faint. Most of the ones I saw were green but occasionally I saw white and red auroras too.

These next three photos were taken by DJ Jennings, one of the contractors down here who spends a lot of his spare time taking photos around station. He has a special camera lens that can turn an entire 360-degree view into a photo. At his website, you can see other photos of Antarctica taken this way. Some of them have rotating views as well.

In June, we witnessed a total lunar eclipse. We only saw the first half because clouds rolled in while the moon was in shadow. Someone took several photos of the moon as it darkened, and the last picture shows the moon completely in shadow. The reason it looks red instead of black is because the sunlight that passes through the Earth's atmosphere is reflecting off it. For some reason, this reddish light is only visible during totality.

Before the eclipse...

...moving into the Earth's shadow...

...and totality!
One day, there were floating ice crystals in the air that caused all the lights on station to project vertical beams upward and downward. I'm not sure how this works, but the effects were amazing! Thanks again to DJ for these photos.

Here are three more pictures to finish off with, the first two of which I believe were taken by our medical doctor, Dan Su.

The Milky Way
Stars over Ob Hill
The moon peeking out over Ob Hill.

Only five more days until the sun comes back!! :-D

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