Thursday, September 01, 2005

Clear Skies and Star Trails

We never did get to work last night because of ice on the domes, but it did clear off. My colleague, Ivelina Momcheva, took the following pictures with her digital camera last night. Great photography, Iva! Captions are above each photo; click on each photo for a better view!

This picture shows the Magellan Telescopes with the backdrop of the northern sky. The star trails here represent a one-hour exposure. What you are seeing is the rotation of the Earth, apparently causing the stars to move!

Now we swing around 180 degrees for a view of star trails near the South Celestial Pole. Notice that, unlike in the Northern Hemisphere, there is no bright "Southern Star" to mark due south, just a few faint stars. Notice also the beautiful colors of the stars. Our eyes only detect colors of the brightest stars, but they range the spectrum from red to yellow to blue.

This is another picture of the South Pole, but shorter. Two nearby galaxies are visible in this image. The large fuzzy one, just above the roof of the Commons Building, is the Large Magellanic Cloud, and the smaller fuzzy patch near the top of the image is the Small Magellanic Cloud. These galaxies are 200,000 light years away, yet easily visible to the naked eye in dark skies!

This picture shows the southern sky, along with the glow of the Milky Way, the galaxy we live in. The yellow glow low in the sky are street lights in the city of La Serena, about 150 km (100 miles) to the south.

No comments:

Post a Comment