Back in December of 2001, Saturn’s moon Titan passed in front of two background stars (called an “occultation”) from the point of view of the Hale Telescope at Palomar Observatory. Astronomers used the incredible resolving ability of the 5-meter telescope’s adaptive optics to watch the event, which revealed the diffraction of the stars’ light through Titan’s dense atmosphere as well as allowing them to measure the moon’s stratospheric winds. Check it out above!
Video credit: A. Bouchez, M. Brown, M. Troy et al./Caltech
These days it seems exoplanets are being discovered nearly every week, with “super-Earths”, “hot Jupiters” and “cold Neptunes” being identified (or at least announced as solid candidates) within star systems all around our neck of the galaxy. To top it all off, today the European Southern Observatory announced that an Earth-mass world has now been found orbiting Alpha Centauri B — quite literally the “star next door.”
I captured the Space Station careening toward the Hunter on the night of March 2, 2012, just a little after 7:50 pm. A half-moon illuminated the event… who won? Well, let’s just say Orion’s still up there and the ISS faded away shortly after!
(I’m sure they’ll be back for another go! They’re a plucky bunch.)
Image taken with a Nikon D7000 and 18mm lens. 30s exposure, 1000 ISO, f/9.
Image © Jason Major.
Can’t see the video below? Click here.
One of the latest uploads to the Gateway to Astronaut Photography of Earth site, this short-but-oh-so-sweet video shows the view from the Space Station as it passes over Africa, Madagascar and the southern Indian Ocean at night on December 29, 2011. Multiple lightning storms flash over Africa while the Milky Way rises majestically behind the thin line of Earth’s atmosphere, capped by a greenish layer of airglow. Also making an appearance is Comet Lovejoy, at the time two weeks after its near-fatal sunburn. It can be made out rising near the Milky Way’s right side, its faint tail vertical.