In this week’s NASA astronomical image collection, you can check out several stunning images of last Saturday’s total solar eclipse (4). One of them was captured above the clouds by a photographer who was on a commercial airliner. It shows the latest series of solar records made in Antarctica and also included the time of total solar eclipses.
Of course, this selection was not limited to the eclipse, but it also included recordings of other objects – for example, one shows Comet Hale-Bopp shining in the sky over Italy, and the other includes the silhouette of the International Space Station in contrast to the glow of the moon in the background.
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Saturday (04) – Full moon and iridescent glow
This photo was taken on the night of November 18, when the moon was in its full phase, its brightest cycle. During the early hours of the next day, the natural satellite was temporarily in shadow cast by Earth during a partial lunar eclipse – but in this image, the phenomenon we observe is different.
Note that although the clouds hide the lunar disk, they do show a colorful, bright glow. These colors are the result of diffraction of light reflected by the full moon into similarly sized small water droplets near the cloud boundary, but random fragments can also appear.
In fact, the iridescence shows colors similar to those of the moon’s crown. This is an optical phenomenon also caused by tiny droplets or ice crystals that form colorful rings around the moon. When this image was taken, our natural satellite was near the Pleiades, one of the closest star clusters to Earth that can be seen using the naked eye to find it, look in the lower left corner of the image.
Sunday (05) – Total Solar Eclipse
Last Saturday (4), the only total solar eclipse of the year occurred. Unfortunately, this phenomenon cannot be seen in Brazil because it happened when it was night here, that is, when the sun was not visible in the sky. On the other hand, the eclipse can be observed over Antarctica – the photo above, for example, was taken by a photographer on a plane flying across the Southern Ocean.
A solar eclipse occurs when the moon comes between the sun and the earth, casting a shadow over our planet. In the case of the above record, the photographer was able to capture the sun’s outer corona, a thin layer of our star that is best observed during a total solar eclipse. The darkest point in front of the sun is the moon.
Another interesting aspect of this image is the darkened region of the sky around the eclipse. This is the shade cone – or “shade” – where sunlight is completely blocked out. Around this cone there is a semi-shade, a funnel-shaped shadow in which sunlight is partially dimmed. What we see in the image, then, is a long corridor of air in the moon’s shadow, accompanied by Mercury near the moon, on the right side.
Monday (06) – The International Space Station and the Moon
Do you see that moon that shines in the sky? Shown here accompanied by the silhouette of the International Space Station in this composite image, taken in Payson, USA. If you zoom in, you’ll be able to see some details of the orbiting laboratory, such as the solar panels that power the station’s systems, among other structures.
Also, take the opportunity to check out some formations from our natural satellite. For example, Tycho Crater appears in the upper left corner of the image. This is an impact crater on the side of the Moon facing us, named after the Danish astronomer Tycho Brahe; The crater has a diameter of 85 km and is considered one of the brightest craters.
Analysis of samples collected by astronauts on the Apollo 17 mission showed that this crater is about 108 million years old. Also in this region, there are some light-colored plateaus accompanied by dark plains, formed by ancient volcanic eruptions.
Tuesday (07) – Gravitational Wave Sequence
Astronomers can “hear” collisions between supermassive black holes through gravitational waves, invisible and incredibly fast ripples. As they travel through space, they expand and contract everything in front of them – and fortunately, they can be caught. It’s only been seven years since we’ve had the technology to do this, but in the last three series of observations, 90 have been discovered.
Above are their spectrographs (representations of gravitational wave frequencies with respect to time), recorded by Laser Interferometer Gravitational Observatory (LIGO) detectors, by the VIRGO interferometer and KAGRA observatory, in the United States, Europe and Japan, respectively. The more energy that comes in here after the collision, the brighter the graphics above.
These discoveries have provided scientists with an unprecedented inventory of black holes and neutron stars, as well as helping to determine the expansion rate of the universe. A new sequence of gravitational-wave observations by these three observatories should be performed in December 2022.
Wednesday (08) – Comet Hale-Bopp
This is the bright Hale-Bopp Comet, accompanied by the Dolomite Mountains around Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy. Note that two tails appear. The upper, bluer part, is made up of ions from the comet’s nucleus that are pushed by the flow of charged particles from the solar wind. The lower tail, which is white, comes from larger dust particles in the comet’s core, and is also under the influence of sunlight pressure.
Hale-Bopp is one of the most observed comets during the 20th century and is also one of the brightest seen in several decades: when it passed perihelion (the closest orbital point to the Sun) on April 1, 1997, it had a magnitude of -1.8; It was visible to the naked eye for 18 months and became known as the “Great Comet of 1997”.
The bad news is that he is not expected to make another visit to our heavens until about the year 4385. Fortunately, you don’t have to wait a few thousand years to see such a beautiful object in the sky. Although Leonard’s Comet isn’t quite as bright as astronomers expected, it’s worth waiting to see it late in the morning until December 12; On the seventeenth day, it should begin to appear in the night sky.
Thursday (09) – Silhouette of the lunar disk
In a previous photo of this compilation, I saw a solar eclipse above the clouds, filmed from inside an airplane. Now, how about seeing the phenomenon from the perspective of someone who was in Antarctica, the only place on the planet that allowed us to observe a total solar eclipse? This is what is shown in the image above, taken before the full phase of the phenomenon.
The image was taken by a ground-based telescope, placed in the moon’s shadow, where anyone there saw the solar disk gradually covered by our normal natural moon, until it remained with a small bright crescent strip. When the phenomenon reaches its full stage, the outer atmosphere of the Sun can be briefly observed which is called the “solar crown”. In this image, we see some sunlight above in pink tones.
Today, we can see eclipses thanks to a combination of celestial mechanics and time. is that the moon formed about 4.5 billion years ago and is moving away from the earth, but it is the ideal distance to appear in the sky with an apparent size identical to the sun, allowing it to be obscured during a solar eclipse.
Friday (10) – Solar eclipse on a polar day
This recording of a total solar eclipse in Antarctica was captured at 5:00 a.m. local time. This phenomenon is impressive in itself and is even more intriguing in this icy region: during the summer in the polar regions of our planet, the sun remains above the horizon for 24 hours or more, forming the so-called “midnight sun”.
This is because the closer the place is to the poles of the Earth, the longer the days and nights. These different periods we are accustomed to are called “polar days and nights,” and in the case of the photo, the photographer captured a polar day during a total solar eclipse.
The composite image shows a sequence in which the Sun completes a circle in the sky at Union Glacier in Antarctica. During the eclipse, the sky was dark for a few moments, even though it was above the horizon. In the lower part of the image, you find the sun is completely overshadowed by the moon.
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