Spectacular Images of the Rare ‘Green Comet’ Gracing Our Skies

Comet C/2022 E3 (ZTF) seen from Payton, Arizona on January 21, 2023. Credit and copyright: Chris Schur.

A rare ‘green’ comet is passing through our Solar System and astrophotographers have been out capturing photos. While this comet, named C/2022 E3 (ZTF) is not yet visible yet to the naked eye, it could be when it makes its closest approach to Earth on February 1, but you’ll likely need to be in a very dark site. As of now, you’ll need a telescope or binoculars to see it for yourself. The images here are taken with several minutes of exposure time.

This comet has been dubbed the “Green Comet” because of its greenish hue. Professor Paul Wiegert from Western University in Canada said that comets contain carbon-bearing molecules, which break down under ultraviolet light from the Sun. This produces, among other things, dicarbon molecules which produce the eerie green glow associated with some comets.

Our lead photo comes from photographer Chris Schur from Arizona, and he points out that the comet has a rare sun-ward pointing anti-tail. 

Continue reading “Spectacular Images of the Rare ‘Green Comet’ Gracing Our Skies”

In Case you Missed it, Here are Some Amazing Pictures of Mars Hiding Behind the Moon

This is the occultation of Mars by the Full Moon on December 7, 2022, in a composite showing the motion of Mars relative to the Moon. The motion here is from left to right. However, while this composite makes it look like Mars was doing the moving, it was really the Moon that was passing in front of Mars. Credit and copyright: Alan Dyer.

Last week gave us a celestial triple header, all in one night. The Moon was full and Mars was at opposition (at its closest point to Earth). But the pièce de résistance was when the Moon occulted or passed in front of Mars on the evening/morning of December 7th/8th. Our astrophotographer friends were out in full force to capture the event.

Our lead image comes from prolific amateur astronomer and photographer Alan Dyer, who observed the occultation from his home in Alberta, Canada, and created this composite view of the night’s activities. “While this composite makes it look like Mars was doing the moving,” Dyer explained on Flickr, “it was really the Moon that was passing in front of Mars. But for this sequence I set the telescope mount to track the Moon at its rate of motion against the background stars and Mars, to keep the Moon more or less stationary on the frame while Mars and the background sky passed behind it.”

Here are some more great views from around the world:

Continue reading “In Case you Missed it, Here are Some Amazing Pictures of Mars Hiding Behind the Moon”

One Total Lunar Eclipse Photo to Rule Them All

A composite image from the November 8, 2022 total lunar eclipse showing the moon in various stages throughout the night. Credit and copyright: Andrew McCarthy.

We’ve seen some great images from the total lunar eclipse this week. But this one might top them all. Astrophotographer Andrew McCarthy created this incredible composite image, showing the Moon in various stages of the eclipse throughout the night.

“The size and shape of Earth’s shadow is clearly visible here,” McCarthy said on Twitter. “These events are absolutely magical to witness and quite surreal.”

Continue reading “One Total Lunar Eclipse Photo to Rule Them All”

Stunning Photos from the November 8, 2022 Total Lunar Eclipse

The colors of totality of the November 8, 2022 Lunar eclipse. Credit and copyright: Eliot Herman.

Did the skies above you cooperate this morning to see the total lunar eclipse? Mine did not, and Fraser reports he was clouded out as well. But thankfully, we can live vicariously through all of the wonderful friends and astrophotographers who have shared their jaw-dropping photos of the blood Moon, Beaver Moon total lunar eclipse. This is the last total lunar eclipse until March 14, 2025.

Our lead image, a composite from University of Arizona Professor Eliot Herman shows a series of views throughout the eclipse. “This Lunar eclipse had soft gradations of color that was quite beautiful,” Herman said on Flickr. “This series of photos begins just before totality and ends just after totality. All images are 15 images stacked captured with a Questar telescope, Baader UV/IR filter, and a Nikon Z7II.”

Continue reading “Stunning Photos from the November 8, 2022 Total Lunar Eclipse”

Rare “Red Sprites” Seen From ESO’s La Silla Observatory in Chile

This picture, taken from ESO’s La Silla Observatory in Chile, shows bright red streaks known as red sprites. Credit: Zdenek Bardon/ESO.

This new image taken of the skies above Chile’s Atacama Desert near the European Southern Observatory’s (ESO) La Silla Observatory, shows bright red streaks in the sky known as red sprites. Red sprites are large-scale electrical discharges that occur high above thunderstorm clouds, usually triggered by the discharges of positive lightning between an underlying thundercloud and the ground. However, the red sprites appear high in Earth’s atmosphere, sometimes 50-90 km in altitude.

Continue reading “Rare “Red Sprites” Seen From ESO’s La Silla Observatory in Chile”

New Pics of Phobos From China’s Tianwen-1 Orbiter

Two fundamental factors affect all astrophotography – timing and location. If a camera happens to be at the right place at the right time, it can capture images that have never been seen before. And with the proliferation of cameras throughout the solar system, more and more novel photos will be captured at an ever-increasing frequency. China’s Tianwen-1 probe added to that novel collection to celebrate its second anniversary by taking a shot of Mars’ moon Phobos.

Continue reading “New Pics of Phobos From China’s Tianwen-1 Orbiter”

Here's the Final Shortlist for Astrophotographer of the Year 2022

The starry sky over the world's highest national highway by Yang Sutie - Astronomy Photographer of the Year 2022 People & Space.

We look forward to this every year! The Astronomy Photographer of the Year competition showcases and recognizes some of the most stunning views of the night sky and astronomical objects. The shortlisted images from this year’s competition have now been released, and they include awe-inspiring scenes of the Milky Way, colliding galaxies, stellar nurseries, planets, nebula and the always photogenic Moon.

We’re featuring some of our favorites from this year’s competition here. The contest is operated by the Royal Observatory Greenwich, in cooperation with Liberty Specialty Markets and in association with BBC Sky at Night Magazine. In 2022, the competition received over three thousand entries from passionate amateur and dedicated professional photographers, submitted from sixty-seven countries.

Continue reading “Here's the Final Shortlist for Astrophotographer of the Year 2022”

This is it! Meet the Supermassive Black Hole at the Heart of the Milky Way

This is the first image of Sgr A*, the supermassive black hole at the centre of our galaxy. Credit: EHT

On April 10th, 2019, the international consortium known as the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) announced the first-ever image of a supermassive black hole (SMBH). The image showed the bright disk surrounding the black hole at the center of the M87 galaxy (aka. Virgo A). In 2021, they followed up on this by acquiring an image of the core region of the Centaurus A galaxy and the radio jet emanating from it. Earlier this month, the European Southern Observatory (ESO) announced that the EHT would be sharing the results from its latest campaign – observations of Sagittarius A*!

This supermassive black hole resides at the center of the Milky Way Galaxy, roughly 27,000 light-years from Earth, 44 million km (27.34 million mi) in diameter, and has a mass of 4.31 million Suns. The campaign’s results were shared in an ESO press release and a series of live-streamed press conferences worldwide, including the ESO Headquarters in Munich, Germany. The team’s results (which were shared in six papers) were also published today in a special issue of The Astrophysical Journal Letters.

Continue reading “This is it! Meet the Supermassive Black Hole at the Heart of the Milky Way”

This Incredible Photo of the Sun is Made up of 150,000 Individual Photographs

A 300 megapixel photo of our Sun, taken by using a specially modified telescope, compiling over 150,000 individual images. Credit and copyright: Andrew McCarthy.

You’re looking at a 300-megapixel photo of our Sun. Astrophotographer Andrew McCarthy used a specially modified telescope, taking over 150,000 individual photos and combing them into this magnificent image.

“It took about 10 hours to stack all the data, and another 3-4 hours to get it from a raw stack to the final image,” McCarthy said via email.

Continue reading “This Incredible Photo of the Sun is Made up of 150,000 Individual Photographs”

Here’s the View From Sweden During the Recent Solar Storm

Aurora seen in Sweden, October 12, 2021. Credit: All-sky camera, Kiruna Atmospheric and Geophysical Observatory (KAGO) within the Swedish Institute of Space Physics (IRF).

Vivid green and purple aurora swirled and danced across the entire night sky in Sweden recently. The nighttime light show was captured by an all-sky camera in Kiruna, Sweden, which is part of the European Space Agency’s (ESA) Space Weather Service Network.

Continue reading “Here’s the View From Sweden During the Recent Solar Storm”