In May of this year the International Dark Sky Association (IDA) held its first annual Capture the Dark photography competition. Tasked with capturing “meaning of the night”, participants were invited to submit images in one of five categories – Connecting to the Dark, International Dark Sky Places, Impact of Light Pollution, Bright Side of Lighting and Youth.
Connecting to the Dark winner –
View larger | Mihail Minkov captured this photo, which is titled Star Catcher. The photo is from the Black Sea Coast of Bulgaria. It’s the 1st-place winner in 2020’s IDA photo contest, in the Connecting to the Dark category.
International Dark Sky Places winner –
iew larger. | Jean-Francois Graffand captured this image at the Pic du Midi International Dark Sky Reserve in France. It’s the winner in the International Dark Sky Places category. The photo is titled Dark Night in Pyrénées Mountains.
Impact of Light Pollution winner –
View larger. | Petr Horálek captured this image at the Great Wall of China. It’s the winner in the Impact of Light Pollution category. The photo is titled Remembering the Old Times.
Bright Side of Lighting winner –
View larger. | Jean-Francois Graffand captured this photo at the Pyrénées National Parc in France. It’s the winner in the Bright Side of Lighting category. It’s titled The Celestial River.
Youth winner –
View larger.| Nayana Rajesh, age 16, captured the winning entry in the Youth category. The photo is set in Ennis, Texas. It’s titled “The Barn.”
View all winning and finalist submissions – https://darksky.app.box.com/s/yzvnppjej02asjtwvjsxmyr4twxr3e8g
Read more at – https://earthsky.org/earth/ida-2020-photo-contest-winners-night-sky-images?utm_source=EarthSky+News&utm_campaign=868f0bb18e-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2018_02_02_COPY_01&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_c643945d79-868f0bb18e-393970565
Adrien Mauduit of Night Lights Films effortlessly sprinkles corners of imagination with stardust. Ponder Orbem Terrae ( Latin, loosely translated as orbiting Earth or the whole world). Mauduit’s unique artistry hums arias of wonder. Wrap yourself in Orbem Terrae-
“All the modern films taken at night usually capture this celestial course from a fixed point of the Earth. Thus you will most likely watch the moon or the milky way make their way across the firmament. In the Northern Hemisphere, it seems to move from left to right, and the opposite in the Southern Hemisphere. Nonetheless have you ever seen a film where the night sky is fixed and the Earth moves instead? Well, now you have!That was the whole point of this short time-lapse film that I dubbed ‘Orbem Terræ’, or orbiting Earth in latin. The goal is to bring a whole new perspective on how we actually move against the background sky! In this manner, some of the clips give a very cool effect where you almost feel like you’re on the International Space Station lokking down at the Earth. This ‘floating’ effect is admittedly unsettling though, as if we will fall into the abyss of the universe. However only now can you appreciate the true movement of rotation of our planet in the solar system. Some of the clips are also tilted, reversed and rotated on purpose to accentuate the effect, so much that sometimes, you have no clue what is up and what is down! It’s especially true for the scenes featuring water reflection!
To achieve this particular effect, it actually not rocket science. There exist simple devices that, if set in the right way, can follow and track a particular point of the sky by compensation for the rotation of the Earth. By mountain your camera on top of those ‘tracker’, you can now have a fixed sky, a rotating Earth effect, and some advantages as the cherry on top: more details in the night sky objects!
This short film is actually a compilation of all the best tracked shots I have acquired during the past 4 years. After all my different movies, I’ve been asked a number of times to put together this compilation, so here you go! They were taken all over the globe from Europe to South America, Africa to North America. It features some of the most detailed astrophotography sequences on the market for this quality output, including some never-seen-before ones! “ – Adrien Mauduit
Today a co-worker asked what I was interested in, without hesitation I replied “have you ever really seen the moon?”
This video appeared in a ponder several months ago. Driving home all I could think about was watching and sharing it again. As I write it loops for the fourth time, tears of immeasurable happiness pluck corners of an ever widening grin. Ponders of childlike innocence lost in our caustic world led to an epiphany – the world would be a better place if every man, woman and child watched this clip……
Ever wanted a closer look at our Milky Way? Nick Risinger of ESO (Emerson Digitized Sky Observatory) zooms beyond Earth in the direction of Sagittarius. Beyond Sagittarius the camera switches to infrared, allowing us to see through and beyond cosmic dust clouds to objects orbiting the supermassive black hole at the heart of our galaxy.
This is the perfect week to lay naked eyes on the Milky Way. August 14 heralds a new moon, for the next week a waxing crescent moon sets just after sunset. From a rural location moonless night delivers Milky Ways iconic smudge across our sky. (The same Milky Way thousands of panicked callers reported as a UFO when California lights went out after the Northridge earthquake)
There’s no excuse for not adding a sky app to your phone – free, idiot proof tools capable of turning heads upwards with childlike enthusiasm. Embrace unfamiliar cosmic dioramas, dazzle friends and family, enrich your perspective with a sense of wonder, or simply figure out once and for all which one is Jupiter, which one Venus.
Android phone apps have been around longer than anything “i”. My phone has Sky Map, and real time images of the Sun from Solar Dynamics Observatory. Free, reliable android apps linked below
Once upon a time iPhone users were out of luck – linked below, free cosmic apps for iphone or pad.
What are you waiting for?
Notes “star gazing” with Google Sky Map
The ridiculously difficult landing of Rosetta Mission’s Philae probe on comet 67P ignited pondering fires of cosmic wonder – a topic I’ve been silent on far too long. Months ago I wrote a post about “baby steps” to the cosmos, followed by several more on identifying specific stars, planets and constellations. Doubtful that many people bothered to follow meticulous instructions for visual orientation, my fall back has always been enthusiastic encouragement to download Google’s Sky Map app. As I pointed my phone at tonight’s sky, it occurred to me – this is too easy. To”Google”, is to arrive at answers without the process of investigation. Sky apps are handy in a pinch, but rather like cheating on a final exam – how could I study for the test?
My mind drifted back to grade school, and it hit me – I’ll make my own Planisphere.
Planispheres have existed in one form or another for centuries – one disc over another, rotating on a central pivot. Or a “pocket” and “wheel” you slip into the pocket depending on where you are and what you want to see. I found the site linked below – step by step instructions for all your Planisphere needs. First you print a “pocket” based on your latitude, then you make “city” and “milky way” wheels. City wheels are basic orientation of the brightest objects as seen from your location. Milky Way wheels are full on representation of everything visible if you could view the night sky as if in a rural location, free of light pollution. The site gives latitudes and instructions for “traveling” star wheels – make Planispheres when you travel, or send them as Christmas gifts to anyone, anywhere.
Of course I could go out and buy a Planisphere, but that defeats the purpose. The point is to stop and think about your latitude, realizing it truly matters to the night sky. A Planisphere forces one to understand the cosmic drift and flow. Making one teaches far more than occasional posts or instant recognition Google ever could – a star wheel offers reasons, makes us think, and takes us back to the joy of discovery.
Traveling at the speed of light for 2,538,000 years you would reach our closest galaxy, Andromeda. To put it simply – moving at 186,000 miles per second for over two and a half million years, covering a distance of 15,000,000,000,000,000,000 miles.
If you happen to be in the northern hemisphere and want to try finding Andromeda – now is the perfect time. Attempting Andromeda within cities or urban areas is futile – Andromeda requires the darkest of darkest skies.
Look to the eastern sky around 9 PM and locate the Great Square of Pegasus. Think of Alpheratz as 3rd base – draw an imaginary line between first and third base – that line points towards Andromeda.
Next allow your eye to adjust and find two “streamers” to the north (left) of Alpheratz. Streamers being “lines” of brighter stars. These “streamers” form constellation Andromeda. Find Mirach – the brightest star along the bottom line, let your eye draw a line between Mirach and the star Mu in the “streamer” above – keep going about the same distance above Mu, and say hello to Andromeda. I won’t promise a jaw dropping spectacle – more like a fuzzy smudge.
Finding Andromeda isn’t about razzamatazz. Even if you fail – the act of finding two and a half million year old light from another galaxy, is worth the effort.
This video speaks for itself – explaining why I can’t wipe the grin off my face, or how it bolsters my wonder for all things cosmic seem inappropriate. Watch, wonder and smile.
Watching this time lapse video by Mike Flores – 4 years ago in Baja California – illustrates ancient civilization’s keen understanding of the cosmos. Ponder a world unfettered by light pollution – imagine this on the “big screen” every night – galactic awareness would become second nature.
This graphic sums up modern reality – a majority of Earth’s citizens live within the spectrum of the first two night skies. All but a handful of the brightest objects hopelessly lost to light pollution. I’ve used the 1994 Los Angelos Northridge earthquake example on many occasions – when the city lost power, frantic citizens called 911 and the Griffith Observatory, terrified by the appearance of a “strange, giant, silvery cloud” – it never occurred to say hello to the Milky Way.
I’ve often asked myself if modern indifference towards the natural world stems from fading reminders of our place in the cosmos. Ancient people built mythology around celestial observations – cosmic shifts and alignments dictated planting, harvest. Elaborately woven lore binding earth and sky. The world made sense because nothing was taken for granted.
We’ve lost the one perspective able to put us in our place – the ability to look up and see we’re part of a very big universe. It may not be possible to find a corner dark enough to see the universe as ancient people did – watching Mike Flores video is a great place to start.