Spotlight on Antarctica

This ethereal image was taken by Daniel Michalik, currently a research fellow at ESA. It was shortlisted as a finalist in the Royal Society photography competition in 2017, and went on to become the overall winner in the ‘Astronomy’ category – and it’s easy to see why.

It captures a beautiful scene at the Earth’s South Pole in Antarctica, where the dry, cold conditions allow for observations of a number of rare celestial phenomena that are seen far less often elsewhere. The sight captured beautifully here by Daniel is a good example of such a phenomenon: a light pillar.

The Moon illuminates a column of bright light between it and the frozen plateau below, creating a scene akin to a dramatic lunar spotlight beaming downwards. This is caused by moonlight reflecting from and refracting through ice crystals suspended in our planet’s atmosphere, producing a diffuse, eerie glow. Atmospheric ice crystals are behind a number of the phenomena showcased wonderfully at the South Pole, including halos and arcs (glowing rings that encircle the Sun or Moon in the sky), as well as sun and moon dogs (bright, circular spots of light that sometimes appear along these halos around the Sun or Moon).

Jupiter can be seen as a bright spot to the upper left of the Moon. This photograph is one single long exposure with minor contrast and exposure adjustments, taken at -60°C.

Daniel wintered at the Geographic South Pole in 2017 while he worked at the 10-metre South Pole Telescope (SPT), visible here as the leftmost radio dish. The other two dishes visible are BICEP2 (Background Imaging of Cosmic Extragalactic Polarization 2), and the Keck Array. These telescopes are exploring the very earliest days of the cosmos. They are located in the Dark Sector of the Amundsen–Scott South Pole Station, where any sources of electro-magnetic interference that could potentially affect the observations are kept as low as possible. This means no wifi, no radio contact, and no bright lights in this area, amongst others.

A line of flags is visible snaking away from the camera towards these telescopes – it helps astronomers and staff find their way to the site during the five months of continuous winter darkness.

The Moon creates a number of fascinating and unique sights for terrestrial observers, perhaps the most famous being eclipses. The most recent lunar eclipse – when the Earth slips between the Moon and the Sun, casting its shadow onto our satellite – occurred during the early hours of this morning. The total lunar eclipse could be seen from North America, South America, and parts of western and northern Europe and Africa.

While the Moon has not welcomed human visitors since the 1970s, it is again becoming a target for space agencies. The Moon is a key reference point for understanding the evolution of the early Solar System. There is also renewed interest in a long-term human presence on the Moon as it offers great potential as a ‘springboard’ for humans to explore other regions of space – Mars being the next goal.

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Spotlight on Antarctica

This ethereal image was taken by Daniel Michalik, currently a research fellow at ESA. It was shortlisted as a finalist in the Royal Society photography competition in 2017, and went on to become the overall winner in the ‘Astronomy’ category – and it’s easy to see why.

It captures a beautiful scene at the Earth’s South Pole in Antarctica, where the dry, cold conditions allow for observations of a number of rare celestial phenomena that are seen far less often elsewhere. The sight captured beautifully here by Daniel is a good example of such a phenomenon: a light pillar.

The Moon illuminates a column of bright light between it and the frozen plateau below, creating a scene akin to a dramatic lunar spotlight beaming downwards. This is caused by moonlight reflecting from and refracting through ice crystals suspended in our planet’s atmosphere, producing a diffuse, eerie glow. Atmospheric ice crystals are behind a number of the phenomena showcased wonderfully at the South Pole, including halos and arcs (glowing rings that encircle the Sun or Moon in the sky), as well as sun and moon dogs (bright, circular spots of light that sometimes appear along these halos around the Sun or Moon).

Jupiter can be seen as a bright spot to the upper left of the Moon. This photograph is one single long exposure with minor contrast and exposure adjustments, taken at -60°C.

Daniel wintered at the Geographic South Pole in 2017 while he worked at the 10-metre South Pole Telescope (SPT), visible here as the leftmost radio dish. The other two dishes visible are BICEP2 (Background Imaging of Cosmic Extragalactic Polarization 2), and the Keck Array. These telescopes are exploring the very earliest days of the cosmos. They are located in the Dark Sector of the Amundsen–Scott South Pole Station, where any sources of electro-magnetic interference that could potentially affect the observations are kept as low as possible. This means no wifi, no radio contact, and no bright lights in this area, amongst others.

A line of flags is visible snaking away from the camera towards these telescopes – it helps astronomers and staff find their way to the site during the five months of continuous winter darkness.

The Moon creates a number of fascinating and unique sights for terrestrial observers, perhaps the most famous being eclipses. The most recent lunar eclipse – when the Earth slips between the Moon and the Sun, casting its shadow onto our satellite – occurred during the early hours of this morning. The total lunar eclipse could be seen from North America, South America, and parts of western and northern Europe and Africa.

While the Moon has not welcomed human visitors since the 1970s, it is again becoming a target for space agencies. The Moon is a key reference point for understanding the evolution of the early Solar System. There is also renewed interest in a long-term human presence on the Moon as it offers great potential as a ‘springboard’ for humans to explore other regions of space – Mars being the next goal.

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How to photograph a lunar eclipse

A total lunar eclipse will be visible from Europe, North and South America, and western Africa in the night between 20 and 21 January 2019.

During a lunar eclipse, the Moon passes behind Earth’s shadow, which blocks it from sunlight. At the moment of totality, the lunar disk is not completely dark but has a reddish hue, due to sunlight refracted through Earth’s atmosphere.

Discover how to take beautiful images of the lunar eclipse in this tutorial video.

Credits: ESA, ESA/CESAR (ground-based observations), NASA's Scientific Visualization Studio (penumbra and umbra sequence), Konstantin Karchev (Moon and Mars time sequence), Manuel Castillo (lunar eclipse: totality view and sequence), Wouter van Reeven (lunar eclipse sequence)

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ESA DG’s press breakfast

The ESA Director General’s annual new year press breakfast held at ESA’s headquarters in Paris, France, on 16 January 2019. Jan Wörner talked about the achievements of 2018 and the highlights for 2019, with a particular focus on Space19+, the ministerial conference to be held in Seville, Spain, in November 2019. The event was concluded with an interactive question-and-answer session with Director General and ESA’s Programme Directors.

Click here to visit Original posting

How to photograph a lunar eclipse

A total lunar eclipse will be visible from Europe, North and South America, and western Africa in the night between 20 and 21 January 2019.

During a lunar eclipse, the Moon passes behind Earth’s shadow, which blocks it from sunlight. At the moment of totality, the lunar disk is not completely dark but has a reddish hue, due to sunlight refracted through Earth’s atmosphere.

Discover how to take beautiful images of the lunar eclipse in this tutorial video.

Credits: ESA, ESA/CESAR (ground-based observations), NASA's Scientific Visualization Studio (penumbra and umbra sequence), Konstantin Karchev (Moon and Mars time sequence), Manuel Castillo (lunar eclipse: totality view and sequence), Wouter van Reeven (lunar eclipse sequence)

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ESA DG’s press breakfast

The ESA Director General’s annual new year press breakfast held at ESA’s headquarters in Paris, France, on 16 January 2019. Jan Wörner talked about the achievements of 2018 and the highlights for 2019, with a particular focus on Space19+, the ministerial conference to be held in Seville, Spain, in November 2019. The event was concluded with an interactive question-and-answer session with Director General and ESA’s Programme Directors.

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The past and future of lunar exploration by Al Worden

Al Worden, Command Module Pilot for the Apollo 15 mission talks about the US space programme during the space race and the future of lunar exploration.

Colonel Worden is one of only 24 people to have flown to the Moon, and he is best known as the first astronaut to make a spacewalk in deep space, during the return of his Apollo flight from the Moon in 1971.

In an interview recorded at the Technik Museum Speyer, Germany, Al Worden describes his mission as the first truly scientific flight in the Apollo programme.

Find out more about the why and how of lunar exploration on ESA’s interactive guide of the Moon: https://lunarexploration.esa.int/#/intro

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What is the origin of the Moon?

The Moon has been circling the Earth for over four billion years, but where did it come from?

In this video, Ralf Jaumann, planetary geologist at the German Aerospace Centre, DLR, discusses the four theories that could explain the origin of the Earth-Moon system.

There are four theories about the origin of the Earth-Moon system. The first is that Earth captured a celestial body in its orbit. Another possibility is that a rapidly rotating Earth could have thrown material out to form the Moon around it. A third theory is that Earth and the Moon formed at the same time out of the same material. Today, most scientists believe the Moon is ‘Earth's child’ – a large body collided with Earth, destroying our planet’s mantle and sending material into orbit from which the Moon formed. This ‘big splash’ theory would explain why the Moon’s rocks are similar to those on Earth.

Find out more about the why and how of lunar exploration on ESA’s interactive guide of the Moon: https://lunarexploration.esa.int/#/intro

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The past and future of lunar exploration by Al Worden

Al Worden, Command Module Pilot for the Apollo 15 mission talks about the US space programme during the space race and the future of lunar exploration.

Colonel Worden is one of only 24 people to have flown to the Moon, and he is best known as the first astronaut to make a spacewalk in deep space, during the return of his Apollo flight from the Moon in 1971.

In an interview recorded at the Technik Museum Speyer, Germany, Al Worden describes his mission as the first truly scientific flight in the Apollo programme.

Find out more about the why and how of lunar exploration on ESA’s interactive guide of the Moon: https://lunarexploration.esa.int/#/intro

Click here to visit Original posting