The Tulip in the Swan
Image Credit & Copyright: Michael Joner, David Laney (West Mountain Observatory, BYU)
NASA astronaut Don Pettit recently uploaded a gallery of photos to the Johnson Space Center’s Flickr page. Pettit on how he captured these amazing images:
“My star trail images are made by taking a time exposure of about 10 to 15 minutes. However, with modern digital cameras, 30 seconds is about the longest exposure possible, due to electronic detector noise effectively snowing out the image. To achieve the longer exposures I do what many amateur astronomers do. I take multiple 30-second exposures, the ‘stack’ them using imaging software, thus producing the longer exposure.”
Ed note: Here are the Hubble Space Telescope’s finest photos.
h/t Twisted Sifter
You notice patterns: clouds over cold oceans look different than clouds over warm oceans. Sometimes the continents are all cloud-covered, so you have no recognizable landmass to help you gauge where you are. If you see a crisscross of jet contrails glistening in the sun above the clouds, you know you are over the United States.
Lightning storms flash like gigantic fireflies looking for mates half a continent away. You see patterns on the ocean surface, swirls and vortices on large scales, wave diffraction patterns around capes, solitary waves forming long lines out in the middle of nowhere, and rivers that look like they are spilling milk chocolate into turquoise oceans.
An astrological discovery that would make Luke Skywalker a little homesick is making waves this week — a faraway planet has been found to have two suns.
A team of experts used the NASA Kepler space telescope to discover the planet, which orbits around two large stars — similar to Tatooine, the fictional home of Skywalker in the Star Wars films.
In this case, however, the discovery doesn’t get the Hollywood treatment in terms of a name. Its name is the far more prosaic Kepler-16b.