I don’t know about you, but I am getting pretty sick and disturbed about all of the world’s bad news. It’s time to look for something else, maybe something “out of this world.” So I am turning today to The Royal Greenwich Observatory’s 2013 Annual Astronomy Photographers competition. Some of these pictures are absolutely stunning and, well you know, out of this world.
Among my favorite is the wired angle shot “Quadruple Lunar Halo” taken by Spanish photographer Dani Caxete. Then there is “Snowy Range Perseid Meteor Shower” by US photographer David Kingham. Kingham combined twenty-three individual frames to capture all of the splendor and excitement of this past August’s Perseid meteor shower. From a physics point of view this image does an excellent job of illustrating how all the meteors come from a single locus in the sky – an guess what those of you who know your stars will recognize that this locus is in the constellation of Perseus. And finally I just love the “Ring of Fire Sequence” by Jia Hao of Singapore. This composite image shows the progression of an annular solar eclipse in May 2013. It is a curious fact of nature that the moon and the sun are both 110 times their diameters away from the Earth. As a result during most solar eclipses the moon perflectly occludes the sun. However, in some cases the moon is just a bit farther away and the occlusion is shy of complete. The effect is the “ring of fire” of what is referred to as an annular eclipse. Here the effect is made just a bit more dramatic by atmospheric distortions that occur as the sun/moon near the horizon. Ain’t nature wonderful?