Amazing Manual Trailing of Sirius and More Astrophotos from Pakistan

Ever notice how the brilliant star Sirius appears to change colors right before your eyes? Astrophotographer Roshaan Bukhari from Pakistan wanted to see for himself how this twinkling star changes in color due to the effects of our atmosphere as its light gets refracted and he did a little experiment with his telescope and camera. What resulted was a unique and colorful astrophoto!

“I pointed my telescope to sharply focus on Sirius and put my DSLR camera to 2 second exposure while holding it near the eyepiece and focusing Sirius from the camera viewfinder as well,” Roshaan told Universe Today via email. “I started shaking the telescope in a circular manner by holding it from the eyepiece so that Sirius was dancing all over the eyepiece in an ‘O’ shape. That’s when I pressed the camera shutter button and the shutter remained open for 2 seconds, recording the colours and the pattern of Sirius within the eyepiece.”

Roshaan said he did enhance the contrast to bring the trails out more clearly, but the color saturation and hues have not been altered in any way. The changes in color in just a two-second exposure are really amazing!

Roshaan shared how astronomy and astrophotography in Pakistan is becoming a “blooming field now” — which we are very happy to hear! “And I’m very happy to say that I am a part of it!” he said, adding, “I’m one of the biggest fans of Universe Today and have been listening to it’s podcasts on iTunes since i got my first iPhone back in 2008.”

Here are few more images from Roshaan Bukhari under Pakistan skies:

Two views of the the 13-day old Moon on  June 11, 2014 at  7 pm and 2 am local time, as seen from Lahore, Pakistan.  Credit and copyright: Roshaan Bukhari.
Two views of the the 13-day old Moon on June 11, 2014 at 7 pm and 2 am local time, as seen from Lahore, Pakistan. Credit and copyright: Roshaan Bukhari.

How does the look of the Moon change during the night? These images of the Moon — taken 7 hours apart — were shot through Roshaan’s telescope with his mobile phone camera using the handheld afocal method!

Phase of the moon at 7 pm was 96.8%, while at 2 am it was 97.5% (rate of change of lunar phase turns out to be 0.7% in 7 hours, figures estimated from Stellarium).

Roshaan said the quality of the images is not that great since he took them while there a lot of dust was up in the atmosphere due to some strong winds, but we think they look great!

The phases of Venus from November 2013 to January 2014. Credit and copyright: Roshaan Bukhari.
The phases of Venus from November 2013 to January 2014. Credit and copyright: Roshaan Bukhari.
A closeup of four craters that appear on the limb of the Moon. Credit and copyright: Roshaan Bukhari.
A closeup of four craters that appear on the limb of the Moon. Credit and copyright: Roshaan Bukhari.

Thanks to Roshaan for sharing his images from Pakistan.

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Pakistan’s “Earthquake Island” Seen From Space

On the afternoon of Tuesday September 24, 2013, a 7.7-magnitude earthquake struck Balochistan province in southern Pakistan, causing widespread destruction across several districts during more than 2 minutes of powerful tremors and shaking. Sadly at least 400 people were killed (some reports say 600) and over 100,000 have been left homeless. But a weirder — if much less tragic — effect of the quake that was soon reported worldwide was the sudden appearance of a new island off the coast, a mound of mud and bubbling methane seeps rising nearly 20 meters (70 feet) from the ocean surface.

The image above, taken by NASA’s Earth Observing-1 satellite, shows the newly-formed mud island a kilometer (0.6 miles) off the Gwadar coast.

According to an article by the Pakistani news site Dawn.com, the 250-by-100-foot-long pile of mud and rocks is leaking flammable gases.

“Our team found bubbles rising from the surface of the island which caught fire when a match was lit and we forbade our team to start any flame,” said Mohammad Danish, a marine biologist from Pakistan’s National Institute of Oceanography. “It is methane gas.”

Aerial photo of the Gwadar mud volcano (National Institute of Oceanography, Pakistan)
Aerial photo of the Gwadar mud volcano (National Institute of Oceanography, Pakistan)

Pakistan’s many earthquakes are the result of collisions between the Indian, Arabian, and Eurasian tectonic plates. These sorts of mud volcanoes are not particularly unusual after large quakes there… it just so happened that this one occurred near a populated coast and in relatively shallow water. (Source)

(In fact two days later another mud island was spotted off the coast of the nearby coastal town of Ormara.)

The mud volcano, which is being called “Zalzala Jazeera” (earthquake island) is not expected to last long. Wave action will eventually sweep the sediment away over the course of several months. (Dawn.com.)

Unfortunately earthquake relief efforts in the remote Taliban-dominated region are being hampered by militant activity.

Image source: NASA Earth Observatory

A Night Flight Over the Mideast

India-Pakistan Border from ISS


The cities of the Middle East and southern Asia shine bright in the night beneath the International Space Station as it passed high overhead on October 21, 2011.

This video, an animation made from dozens of still images taken by the Expedition 29 crew, was assembled by the Image Science and Analysis Laboratory at Johnson Space Center in Houston. It was uploaded to the Gateway to Astronaut Photography of Earth site on October 27.

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Some glare from the Moon (off screen to the upper left) can be seen in the Plexiglas of the ISS window. The strobe-like flashes are lightning in clouds. Airglow is also visible as a band of hazy green light surrounding the planet.

Another particularly noticeable feature visible in this video is the bright orange line of the border between India and Pakistan. Erected by the Indian government to prevent smuggling, nearly 1200 miles (1930 km) of floodlights and fences separate the two countries, creating a geopolitical feature easily visible from orbit.

The website’s description states:

The sequence of shots was taken October 21, 2011 from 19:53:26 to 20:25:24 GMT, on a pass beginning over Turkmenistan, east of the Caspian Sea to southeastern China, just northwest of Hong Kong. City lights show at the beginning of the video as the ISS travels southeastward towards the India-Pakistan borderline (click here for the Earth Observatory article to learn more about this area). Pakistan’s second largest city, Lahore, can be easily seen as the brightly lit area left of track. Immediately downtrack of Lahore is New Delhi, India’s capital city, with the Kathiawar Peninsula right of track dimly lit. Smaller cities in southern India can be seen as the pass continues southeastward through southern India, into the Bay of Bengal. Lightning storms are also present, represented by the flashing lights throughout the video. The pass ends over western Indonesia, looking left of track at the island of Sumatra.

I particularly like the way the stars shine so prominently beyond Earth’s limb, and how the moonlight illuminates the clouds… not to mention the bloom of dawn at the end. What an incredible sight this must be for the ISS crew members! I can’t imagine ever getting tired of seeing this outside the Station windows.

Watch more ISS videos here.

Video courtesy of the Image Science & Analysis Laboratory, NASA Johnson Space Center.