Stunning Planetary Trio Pictures from Around the World

Have you seen the views in the morning skies this week, with three planets huddling together at dawn? Just one degree separated planets Jupiter and Venus, with Mars sneaking in nearby. Astrophotographers were out in full force to capture the scene!

Above, the very talented photographer Alan Dyer from Canada captured a stunning image of the planetary trio over Lake Annette, in Jasper National Park, Alberta, Canada. He took several gorgeous shots, and so we’ve added one more of his below, plus dozens of other wonderful shots from our astrophotographer friends around the world. Each of these images are from Universe Today’s Flickr pool, so you can click on each picture to get a larger view on Flickr.

Enjoy these great views, as there won’t be a more compact arrangement of three planets again until January 10, 2021.

A panorama of roughly 120° showing a star- and planet-filled sky in the dawn twilight over Lake Annette in Jasper National Park, Alberta, on the morning of October 25, 2015.   At left, to the east, are the two bright planets, Venus (brightest) and Jupiter in a close conjunction 1° apart (and here almost merging into one glow), plus reddish Mars below them, all in Leo, with the bright star Regulus above them. Right of centre, to the south, is Orion and Canis Major, with the bright star Sirius low in the south. At upper right are the stars of Taurus, including Aldebaran and the Hyades star cluster. Venus was near greatest elongation on this morning. Credit and copyright: Alan Dyer.
A panorama of roughly 120° showing a star- and planet-filled sky in the dawn twilight over Lake Annette in Jasper National Park, Alberta, on the morning of October 25, 2015.
At left, to the east, are the two bright planets, Venus (brightest) and Jupiter in a close conjunction 1° apart (and here almost merging into one glow), plus reddish Mars below them, all in Leo, with the bright star Regulus above them. Right of centre, to the south, is Orion and Canis Major, with the bright star Sirius low in the south. At upper right are the stars of Taurus, including Aldebaran and the Hyades star cluster. Venus was near greatest elongation on this morning. Credit and copyright: Alan Dyer.
Taken from Coral Towers Observatory in Queensland, Australia on October 28, 2014. Venus is to the right of and slightly below Jupiter and Mars is to the right of and below Venus. The pre-dawn landscape is illuminated by moonlight. Credit and copyright: Joseph Brimacombe.
Taken from Coral Towers Observatory in Queensland, Australia on October 28, 2014. Venus is to the right of and slightly below Jupiter and Mars is to the right of and below Venus. The pre-dawn landscape is illuminated by moonlight. Credit and copyright: Joseph Brimacombe.
Jupiter, Venus, and Mars rise behind the 14,155 foot peak of Mount Democrat in Colorado. Credit and copyright: Patrick Cullis.
Jupiter, Venus, and Mars rise behind the 14,155 foot peak of Mount Democrat in Colorado. Credit and copyright: Patrick Cullis.
Spooky Selfie, Three Planets and a Dead Satellite. The planetary conjunction of Jupiter, Venus and Mars on October 26, 2015, along with the ADEOS II satellite, which died in orbit in 2003 after the solar panels failed. Credit and copyright: Tom Wildoner.
Spooky Selfie, Three Planets and a Dead Satellite. The planetary conjunction of Jupiter, Venus and Mars on October 26, 2015, along with the ADEOS II satellite, which died in orbit in 2003 after the solar panels failed. Credit and copyright: Tom Wildoner.
Planetary conjunction of Jupiter, Venus and Mars as seen from Search Results     Map of Le Puy Saint-Bonnet, 49300 Cholet, France     Le Puy Saint-Bonnet, 49300 Cholet, France     Le Puy-Saint-Bonnet in France on October 26, 2015. Credit and copyright: David de Cueves.
Planetary conjunction of Jupiter, Venus and Mars as seen from Search Results
Map of Le Puy Saint-Bonnet, 49300 Cholet, France
Le Puy Saint-Bonnet, 49300 Cholet, France
Le Puy-Saint-Bonnet in France on October 26, 2015. Credit and copyright: David de Cueves.
Venus, Jupiter and Mars grace the morning skies in France on October 26, 2015. Credit and copyright: Frank Tyrlik.
Venus, Jupiter and Mars grace the morning skies in France on October 26, 2015. Credit and copyright: Frank Tyrlik.

Here’s a timelapse from Damien Weatherley of his planet imaging session from the morning of October 25, 2015:

Astronomy timelapse 25.10.15

Venus, Jupiter & Mars create a close triangle in the eastern sky at dawn! John Chumack captured this image above his backyard Observatory in Dayton, Ohio on 10-26-2015. Credit and copyright: John Chumack.
Venus, Jupiter & Mars create a close triangle in the eastern sky at dawn! John Chumack captured this image above his backyard Observatory in Dayton, Ohio on 10-26-2015. Credit and copyright: John Chumack.
A zoomed out view of the planetary trio from John Chumack's observatory in Dayton, Ohio on October 25, 2015. Credit and copyright: John Chumack.
A zoomed out view of the planetary trio from John Chumack’s observatory in Dayton, Ohio on October 25, 2015. Credit and copyright: John Chumack.
Conjunction of Venus, Jupiter & Mars on the morning of  Monday Oct. 26, 2015. Credit and copyright: Holly Roberts.
Conjunction of Venus, Jupiter & Mars on the morning of Monday Oct. 26, 2015. Credit and copyright: Holly Roberts.
Jupiter and Venus conjunction on October 25, 2015. They were approximately with a degree and a half of each other. Jupiter's moons are visible. Credit and copyright: Chris Lyons.
Jupiter and Venus conjunction on October 25, 2015. They were approximately with a degree and a half of each other. Jupiter’s moons are visible. Credit and copyright: Chris Lyons.
Venus and the almost invisible Jupiter struggled to shine through the haze on the morning of October 25, 2015, as seen in Malaysia. Credit and copyright: Shahrin Ahmad.
Venus and the almost invisible Jupiter struggled to shine through the haze on the morning of October 25, 2015, as seen in Malaysia. Credit and copyright:Shahrin Ahmad.
Venus, Jupiter and Mars in the hazy, cloudy morning skies over the UK on October 25, 2015. Credit and copyright: Sarah and Simon Fisher.
Venus, Jupiter and Mars in the hazy, cloudy morning skies over the UK on October 25, 2015. Credit and copyright: Sarah and Simon Fisher.

And here’s just a reminder that this planetary conjunction has been setting up for a while. Here’s a shot from October 10 of the planets as they started moving closer together:

A spooky planetary conjunction of Venus, Jupiter and Mars on October 10, 2015 on the Isle of Mull, Scotland. Credit and copyright: Shaun Reynold.
A spooky planetary conjunction of Venus, Jupiter and Mars on October 10, 2015 on the Isle of Mull, Scotland. Credit and copyright: Shaun Reynold.

Watch Lenticular Clouds Form in the Moonlight

Clouds and moonlight are usually the bane of astronomers and astrophotographers. But on a recent evening at Mount Shasta in northern California, the two combined for a stunning look at usual cloud formations called lenticular clouds.

Fortunately for us, photographer Brad Goldpaint from Goldpaint Photography was on hand to capture the event. His beautiful sunset and moonlit images show these strange UFO-reminscent clouds, and the timelapse video he created provides a great demonstration of just how they form.

See the video and more images below:

A few ingredients are needed for lenticular clouds to form: mountains, stable but moist air, and just the right temperature and dew point.

According to WeatherUnderground, these smoooth, lens-shaped clouds normally develop on the downwind side of a mountain or mountain range when the stable, moist air flows over the obstruction and a series of large oscillating waves waves may form. If the temperature at the crest of the wave drops to the dew point, moisture in the air may condense to form lens-like or lenticular clouds. Since the air is stable, the oval clouds can grow quite large appear to be hovering in one place. Hence, the UFO appearance.

In the video, even though the clouds appear to be moving fast, it is a timelapse, so it shows the cloud movement over the entire night, condensed down to 30 seconds. But the video does allow us to see the fluid dynamics or laminar flows in parallel layers that creates the lenticular clouds. Plus, the stars and moonlight add to the beauty of the scene.

Lenticular clouds form at sunset over Mount Shasta in northern California, October r2015. Credit and copyright: Brad Goldpaint/Goldpaint Photography.
Lenticular clouds form at sunset over Mount Shasta in northern California, October r2015. Credit and copyright: Brad Goldpaint/Goldpaint Photography.
Lenticular clouds form over Mount Shasta in northern  California, October, 2015. Credit and copyright: Brad Goldpaint/Goldpaint Photography.
Lenticular clouds form over Mount Shasta in northern California, October, 2015. Credit and copyright: Brad Goldpaint/Goldpaint Photography.

Thanks to Brad for sharing his great work! See more at his website including his series of astrophotography workshops.

First Lunar Eclipse Ever Photographed with a Transit of the ISS

To our knowledge, this is the first time anyone has ever photographed a transit of the International Space Station of the Moon DURING a lunar eclipse. And guess who did it?

Not surprisingly, it was the legendary astrophotographer Thierry Legault.
Usually, Thierry will travel up to thousands of miles to capture unique events like this, but this time, he only had to go 10 miles!

“Even if I caught a cold, I could not miss it,” Thierry told Universe Today in an email. “The Moon was very low on the horizon, only 16 degrees, so the seeing was not very good, but at least the sky was clear.”

Still, a stunning — and singularly unique — view of the “Super Blood Moon” eclipse!

See the video below:

It was a quick pass, with the ISS transit duration lasting a total of 1.7 seconds. Thierry uses CalSky to calculate where he needs to be to best capture an event like this, then studies maps, and has a radio synchronized watch to know very accurately when the transit event will happen.

In a previous article on Universe Today, Legault shared how he figures out the best places to travel to from his home near Paris to get the absolute best shots:

“For transits I have to calculate the place, and considering the width of the visibility path is usually between 5-10 kilometers, but I have to be close to the center of this path,” Legault explained, “because if I am at the edge, it is just like an eclipse where the transit is shorter and shorter. And the edge of visibility line of the transit lasts very short. So the precision of where I have to be is within one kilometer.”

Here’s the specs: ISS Speed: 25000 km/h (15500 mph). ISS Distance: 1100 km; Moon distance: 357,000 km (320x).

You can see other imagery from around the world of the lunar eclipse here, with images taken by Universe Today readers and staff.

Earlier this year, Thierry captured an ISS transit during the March 20, 2015 SOLAR eclipse, which you can see here.

Universe Today’s David Dickinson said he’s been trying to steer people towards trying to capture an ISS transit during a lunar eclipse for quite some time, and concurred that Thierry’s feat is a first. Dave made a video earlier this year to explain how people might photograph it during the April 2015 lunar eclipse, but unfortunately, no astrophotographers had any luck.

Thanks again to Thierry Legault for sharing his incredible work with Universe Today. Check out his website for additional imagery and information.

You can also see some of Legault’s beautiful and sometimes ground-breaking astrophotography here on Universe Today, such as images of the space shuttle or International Space Station crossing the Sun or Moon, or views of spy satellites in orbit.

If you want to try and master the art of astrophotography, you can learn from Legault by reading his book, “Astrophotography,” which is available on Amazon in a large format book or as a Kindle edition for those who might like to have a lit version while out in the field. It is also available at book retailers like Barnes and Noble and Shop Indie bookstores, or from the publisher, Rocky Nook, here.

Astrophoto: Hi-Res Stereo Pair of Jupiter and the GRS

Cross your eyes and take a look at this image. If you’re lucky, you will be treated to a wonderfully clear 3-D view of Jupiter and its Great Red Spot, without the aid of a stereoscope. Or — if you haven’t quite mastered the art of viewing stereo pairs — you might end up with eyestrain.

Prolific astrophotographer Damian Peach took these two shots roughly five minutes apart — which makes them a great candidate for creating a stereo pair.

“Inspired by a suggestion from Dr. Brian May,” Peach told Universe Today via email, “this is the first time I’ve had two excellent quality sets of data so close in time with the GRS right in the centre to attempt this. I completely reprocessed the data for both images to keep a soft natural appearance and to closely match the colour between them as possible.”

Peach also said he measured the size of the GRS at 15,500km in width.

Still trying to view this as a 3-D image? Try this suggestion from Oxford University:

Hold a finger a short distance in front of your eyes and stare at it. In the background you should see two copies of the stereo pair, giving four views altogether. Move your finger away from you until you see the middle two of the four images come together. You should now see just three images in the background. Try to direct your attention slowly toward the middle image without moving your eyes, and it should gradually come into focus.

See more of Peach’s great astrophotography at his website.

Astrophotos: The February 2015 ‘Black’ Moon

As our David Dickinson noted in his recent article, a new term is “creeping into the popular astronomical vernacular: that of a ‘Black Moon’.” This is the New Moon version of a Blue Moon, and is either:

  1. A month missing a Full or New Moon… this can only occur in February, as the lunar synodic period from like phase to phase is 29.5 days long. This last occurred in 2014 and will next occur in 2018.
  2. The second New Moon in a month with two. This can happen in any calendar month except February.
  3. And now for the most convoluted definition: the third New Moon in an astronomical season with four.

The February 18th New Moon met the requirements expressed in rule 3. The fourth New Moon of the season falls on March 20th, just 13 hours before the northward equinox on the same date.

But no matter what the occasion, there are always astrophotographers out to grab pictures, and here are some shared with Universe Today via email and on our Flickr page.

The sliver of the February 2015 new 'black' Moon. Credit and copyright: Héctor Barrios.
The sliver of the February 2015 new ‘black’ Moon. Credit and copyright: Héctor Barrios.
The less than 24-hour old Moon on February 19, 2015, as seen from Toronto, Canada. Credit and copyright: Michael Watson.
The less than 24-hour old Moon on February 19, 2015, as seen from Toronto, Canada. Credit and copyright: Michael Watson.
The Moon, Mars and Venus. Credit and copyright: Neil Ghosh.
The Moon, Mars and Venus. Credit and copyright: Neil Ghosh.

And remember, tonight you can see a close conjunction of the Moon, Venus and Mars. Here’s how you can photograph the event, and make sure to share your photos with Universe Today!

Without the Moon, Comet Lovejoy is Magnificent

With the Moon rising later in the evening this weekend, astrophotographers have taken some spectacular pictures of Comet 2014 Q2 Lovejoy, which continues shine on! Enjoy a few photos here and check out more in Universe Today’s Flickr page.

Chris Schur from Payson, Arizona took the above image with a 80mm f/4.6 Zeiss APO and a ST10xme ccd camera.

Comet Lovejoy on February 8, 2015 seen with a 12.5" Newtonian from Payson, Arizona. Credit and copyright: Chris Schur.
Comet Lovejoy on February 8, 2015 seen with a 12.5″ Newtonian from Payson, Arizona. Credit and copyright: Chris Schur.
Comet C/2014 Q2 Lovejoy, Widefield view, false color. Feb 8, 2015. Credit and copyright: Joseph Brimacombe.
Comet C/2014 Q2 Lovejoy, Widefield view, false color. Feb 8, 2015. Credit and copyright: Joseph Brimacombe.

[caption id="attachment_118887" align="aligncenter" width="580"]Comet Lovejoy Q2, Feb 7, 2015. Credit and copyright: Cajun Astro on Flickr. Comet Lovejoy Q2, Feb 7, 2015. Credit and copyright: Cajun Astro on Flickr.

Skywatchers Identify Aircraft as They Pass in Front of the Sun

It’s all about timing and location.

You’ve probably seen images we’ve posted on Universe Today of planes crossing in front of the Sun or the Moon. But how do the photographers manage to capture these events? Hint: it’s not random luck.

“I live under a main flight path out of Heathrow,” said photographer Chris Lyons from the UK who took the image above earlier today, “and can easily spot the planes not long after they take off — if it is clear — from when they are about 100 miles away!”

Chris posts many of his images on Universe Today’s Flickr page, and what is great about Chris’ airplane photos is that he includes a handy infographic about the plane in the shot; the type of plane, its takeoff and destination, and more, garnered from online flight trackers.

Chris told Universe Today that he originally started trying to catch planes passing in front of the Moon.

A waxing gibbous Moon with an  American Airlines flyby  on Feb. 2, 2015. Credit and copyright: Chris Lyons.
A waxing gibbous Moon with an American Airlines flyby on Feb. 2, 2015. Credit and copyright: Chris Lyons.

“It went from snapping them near it when just taking Moon shots to wanting to get closer and have them actually passing it,” he said. “Then I got a Solar filter and tried it with the Sun. It is far more difficult than the Moon, as you cannot look at it for long. I limit my viewing (our eyes are precious) and only look through high rated neutral density filters.”

We’ve also featured images from Sebastien Lebrigand who lives about 70 km outside of Paris, France. Lebrigand is prolific: he takes almost daily images of planes passing in front of the Sun and Moon and posts them on Twitter.

A Boeing 777 and a sunspot crosses the Sun on April 17, 2014, as seen from France. Credit and copyright: Sebastien Lebrigand.
A Boeing 777 and a sunspot crosses the Sun on April 17, 2014, as seen from France. Credit and copyright: Sebastien Lebrigand.

Lebrigand is an amateur astronomer but says he especially enjoys “the rare conjunction of the planes passing by the Sun and the Moon.’

He uses a Canon EOS 60D and a telescope to take his photos the pictures. But his work takes hours of time for analyzing when a potential photo opportunity might occur, setting up equipment, waiting for the exact moment, and then perfecting the images.

An Airbus A319 jet flying at 37,800 feet as it passes in front of the Moon, as seen from near Paris, France. Credit and copyright: Sebastien Lebrigand.
An Airbus A319 jet flying at 37,800 feet as it passes in front of the Moon, as seen from near Paris, France. Credit and copyright: Sebastien Lebrigand.

Check out more of Chris Lyons’ work at his Flickr page, and you can see more of Sebastien Lebrigand’s work at his website or his Twitter feed.

Comet Lovejoy Now at its Brightest: Images from Around the World

Last night was the first time I was able to spot Comet Lovejoy with unaided eyes. The latest images from our readers and dedicated astrophotographers confirm that now is a good time to see the comet, which is reaching maximum brightness at his week. Spaceweather.com reports that many experienced observers say the comet is now shining at magnitude +3.8. With clear, dark skies C/2104 Q2 is easily seen with binoculars.

Enjoy this gallery of recent images, and if you’ve taken an image, consider joining our Flickr pool and submitting it. We may use your image in an upcoming article!

Comet Lovejoy C/2104 Q2 cruising past the open star Cluster M45 “Pleiades” or “The Seven Sisters.” Credit and copyright: John Chumack.
Comet Lovejoy C/2104 Q2 cruising past the open star Cluster M45 “Pleiades” or “The Seven Sisters.” Credit and copyright: John Chumack.
Comet Lovejoy taken on January 15, 2015 from Singapore. Credit and copyright: Justin Ng.
Comet Lovejoy taken on January 15, 2015 from Singapore. Credit and copyright: Justin Ng.
Comet C/2014 Q2 Lovejoy in a widefield false color image taken on January 16, 2015 from New Mexico Skies. Credit and copyright Joseph Brimacombe.
Comet C/2014 Q2 Lovejoy in a widefield false color image taken on January 16, 2015 from New Mexico Skies. Credit and copyright Joseph Brimacombe.
Comet Lovejoy, C/2014 Q2, a wide binocular field west of M45, the Pleiades star cluster in Taurus, on January 15, 2015, shot from Silver City, New Mexico. The long blue ion tail stretched back for about 8°. Credit and copyright: Alan Dyer.
Comet Lovejoy, C/2014 Q2, a wide binocular field west of M45, the Pleiades star cluster in Taurus, on January 15, 2015, shot from Silver City, New Mexico. The long blue ion tail stretched back for about 8°. Credit and copyright: Alan Dyer.
Comet Lovejoy photographed from Torrance Barrens Dark-Sky Preserve (30 km from Gravenhurst, Ontario, Canada; 200 km north of Toronto) on January 13, 2015.  Credit and copyright: Michael Watson.
Comet Lovejoy photographed from Torrance Barrens Dark-Sky Preserve (30 km from Gravenhurst, Ontario, Canada; 200 km north of Toronto) on January 13, 2015. Credit and copyright: Michael Watson.
Comet Lovejoy as seen from Lahore, Pakistan on January 15, 2014, 10:30 pm local time. 35 single images stacked in DSS. Each 8 seconds, ISO 2000, f/5.6, edited in Photoshop. Credit and copyright: Roshaan Bukhari
Comet Lovejoy as seen from Lahore, Pakistan on January 15, 2014, 10:30 pm local time. 35 single images stacked in DSS. Each 8 seconds, ISO 2000, f/5.6, edited in Photoshop. Credit and copyright: Roshaan Bukhari
High resolution 3 panel mosaic of C/2014 Q2 on January 11, 2015. Field of view is approximately 3.5° x 2° and composed of three fields. Many fine streamers are visible emanating from the nucleus. Credit and copyright: SEN/ Damian Peach.
High resolution 3 panel mosaic of C/2014 Q2 on January 11, 2015. Field of view is approximately 3.5° x 2° and composed of three fields. Many fine streamers are visible emanating from the nucleus. Credit and copyright: SEN/ Damian Peach.
Comet LoveJoy photographed from Kosovo on January 13, 2015. Credit and copyright: Suhel A. Ahmeti.
Comet LoveJoy photographed from Kosovo on January 13, 2015. Credit and copyright: Suhel A. Ahmeti.
C2014 Q2 Lovejoy on January 13, 2015. Credit and copyright: Shahrin Ahmad.
C2014 Q2 Lovejoy on January 13, 2015. Credit and copyright: Shahrin Ahmad.
Comet Lovejoy on January 11, 2015. Credit and copyright: Henry Weiland.
Comet Lovejoy on January 11, 2015. Credit and copyright: Henry Weiland.
Wide angle shot of Comet Lovejoy with the constellation Orion, showing rich fields of red nebula, star clouds and dark nebula with the bright green naked eye comet. Credit and copyright: Chris Schur.
Wide angle shot of Comet Lovejoy with the constellation Orion, showing rich fields of red nebula, star clouds and dark nebula with the bright green naked eye comet. Credit and copyright: Chris Schur.
Comet Lovejoy traveling through Taurus. Imaged on January 12, 2015 from Bathurst, New South Wales. Credit and copyright: Wes Schulstad.
Comet Lovejoy traveling through Taurus. Imaged on January 12, 2015 from Bathurst, New South Wales. Credit and copyright: Wes Schulstad.
C2014 Q2 Lovejoy on January 7, 2015, taken from Bannister Green, England. Credit and copyright: Wendy Clark.
C2014 Q2 Lovejoy on January 7, 2015, taken from Bannister Green, England. Credit and copyright: Wendy Clark.

Photo Shoot Captures Classified Spy Satellite Engine Burn

Remember at the end of “Star Trek: First Contact” when Lily looks up to see the Enterprise enter the temporal vortex with a flash of light? Astrophotographer Randy Halverson captured a view very similar to that scene, albeit without time travel or Vulcans standing nearby.

“On July 28th, 2014, I was set up to shoot the Milky Way near Kennebec, South Dakota,” Halverson wrote on his website. “I had looked through some of the stills but didn’t notice anything unusual. [But] in December 2014 I was editing timelapse and when I got to the July 28th sequence I noticed something different on it. At first I thought it was another meteor with persistent train, but I had missed the meteor in between exposures. I had already caught several meteor with persistent trains on timelapse last year, so I was watching for them. Then I looked closer and noticed the flash was dimming and getting brighter. Also, when I zoomed in I could see a satellite or object right before the first flash.”

Halverson did a quick search of launches during that time and found the Air Force had launched a semi-classified trio of satellites into orbit earlier in the evening of July 28th (23:28 UTC, 7:28 EDT) on a Delta IV rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, and further research indicated he had captured the engine burn of one of the satellite’s final boost stage.

Just goes to show, you can never tell what you’ll see when you’re looking up!

See the timelapse below:

On board the Delta IV were two Geosynchronous Space Situational Awareness Program (GSSAP) spacecraft and the Autonomous Nanosatellite Guardian for Evaluating Local Space (ANGELS) NanoSatellite. Halverson conferred with a few NASA mission analysts and they all agreed the flash was coming from the ANGELS boost stage firing.

“The first flash you see on the timelapse happened at 1:09am July 29th (camera time) so that also seems to match up with the timing for the final burn the article mentions,” Halverson said.

According to the Spaceflight101 website, the ANGELS nanosatellite is a project of the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory’s (AFRL) and was a secondary payload on Delta IV launched on July 28, 2014. Its purpose was to do a technical demonstration flight several hundred kilometers above the belt of geosynchronous orbit (35,786 kilometers (22,236 miles). The satellite was supposed to “perform an autonomous rendezvous demonstration with the Delta IV upper stage before testing a camera system for the inspection of satellites in high orbits.”

Halverson said he used a Canon 5D Mark III with a Nikon 14-24 lens on an eMotimo TB3 mounted on a Dynamic Perception Stage Zero Dolly.

See more of Randy’s great timelapse and night sky photography work at his website dakotalapse, or Twitter.

Incredible Fast-Moving Aurora Captured in Real Time by Thierry Legault

Usually, videos that feature aurora are timelapse videos, in order to show the normally slow movements of the Northern and Southern Lights. But here are some incredibly fast-moving aurorae shown in real time, as seen by astrophotographer extraordinaire Thierry Legault. He was in Norway last week and said the fast-dancing, shimmering aurora were incredible.

“At moments they were so fast that 25 fps (frames per second) was not too much!” Legault said. “The second evening they were so bright that they appeared while the sky was still blue and I rushed to setup the tripod.”

See two videos below, one short version (8 minutes) and another longer 20-minute version. They are worth watching every minute!

He used Sony A7 video cameras, and said these movies show the true rhythm of the aurora, in addition with twinkling stars and trees moving in the wind.

“In the long version there are even several satellites slowly moving amongst the stars and 2 or 3 elusive shooting stars,” Legault told Universe Today. “Many constellations are visible, especially Cassiopeia with the double cluster, the Big Dipper, Cygnus, Lyra, Gemini.”

He added that the aurorae had an incredible variety of shapes and behaviors.

See more imagery on Legault’s website.