Categories: AstrophotosMoonsun

Astrophotos: Sun Halo, Crescent Moon and Earthshine

Here’s a few great astrophotos for today! Astrophotographer César Cantú from the Chilidog Observatory in Monterrey, Mexico captured this stunning halo around the Sun on March 2, 2014. A solar halo is an optical phenomenon produced by ice crystals creating colored or white arcs and spots in the sky. Conditions in the atmosphere have to be just right, with moisture or ice crystals creating a “rainbow” effect around the Sun. Sometimes the halos surround the Sun completely, other times, they appear as arcs around the Sun creating what is known as sundogs. Basically, sunlight is reflecting off moisture in the atmosphere.

Ice crystals in Earth’s atmosphere can also cause rings around the Moon, and moondogs and even Venus “pillars.”

But make sure you look at the crescent Moon tonight — if you’ve missed seeing the thin crescent the past two evenings, tonight it will still be only 11% illuminated (according to Universe Today’s Phases of the Moon app!). Tonight you still might have the chance to see a little Earthshine — reflected Earthlight visible on the Moon’s night side.

See some great crescent Moon and Earthshine images below!

This image comes from one of our “regulars,” John Chumack, who says, “If you have clear skies, go out again tonight (03-03-2014) and look West between 7:00pm and 8:00pm EST, you will see the crescent Moon with Earthshine!”

Also, just another note from John: between 7:00 pm and 8:00 pm the Planet Uranus is 7.5 degrees below the Crescent Moon just after Sunset, but you will not see Uranus until it gets dark enough. You will need a telescope or binoculars to easily view Uranus at Magnitude 5.9, shortly after 8:15pm Uranus will set in the west and then the Moon follows shortly after that.

The young thin Crescent Moon with Earthshine was hanging low in the west near Tampa, Florida on March 2, 2014. Credit and copyright: John Chumack.
The Crescent Moon at 2.45 days old on March 3, 2014. Credit and copyright: James Lennie.
Crescent Moon with Earthshine on March 3, 2014. Credit and copyright: Raymond Gilchrist.

Check out more great images on our Flickr group page.

Want to get your astrophoto featured on Universe Today? Join our Flickr group or send us your images by email (this means you’re giving us permission to post them). Please explain what’s in the picture, when you took it, the equipment you used, etc.

Nancy Atkinson

Nancy has been with Universe Today since 2004. She is the author of a new book on the Apollo program, "Eight Years to the Moon," which shares the stories of 60 engineers and scientists who worked behind the scenes to make landing on the Moon possible. Her first book, "Incredible Stories from Space: A Behind-the-Scenes Look at the Missions Changing Our View of the Cosmos" tells the stories of those who work on NASA's robotic missions to explore the Solar System and beyond.

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