Friday, October 14, 2011

SkyNights update

Momentum....Inertia...Whatever it is, I need to ride it.  I have managed to make several blog posts over the past month and do not want to slip back into infrequent posting mode.  The fact that you are loyally reading this right now is the very reason that I am taking a few quick minutes to post.  As you know (or should), I have been working at the Mount Lemmon SkyCenter leading public SkyNights programs and conducting occasional other outreach events.  Last weekend I conducted a program and one of the guests was a professional photographer named Howard Paley.  As it turns out, not only is Howard an accomplished photographer, he has known my family from as far back as the late 1980's.  That is one of the neat things about Tucson - no matter how it grows, it still feels like a one-horse town.  Howard sent me some images that he took during the program and provided me permission to post them below.  I'd strongly encourage you to visit his website and see some of his incredible photos from around the southwest.  All of the images in this blog post are copyrighted and should not be used without Howard's explicit permission.

One of the atmospheric phenomenon that visitors to our programs can experience, is to see and understand that shadows on earth are actually blue...not black or grey as commonly thought.  The short explanation for why our shadows are blue is that our atmosphere scatters blue light and this is what colors our shadows.  For the long explanation you need to come to a program.

Sunset is incredible from the summit.  At right, is a very pretty image of the Sun heading toward the horizon, approximately 3-4 minutes before the start of sunset.  At sunset, guests often see a unique phenomenon called the green rim.  How do I know that this photo is 3-4 minutes before sunset?  Come to the program, learn the answer, and see the green rim for yourself.

At left is an image of the nearly full moon that Howard captured during the program.  What is incredible is that this image was not taken through a telescope.  It was taken with a tripod mounted camera.  No doubt what makes it special is the photographer.

Finally, a beautiful image of the inside of the dome just after sunset.  While the red light was coming from dim lights within the observatory, the white light shining into the dome from the left is light from the moon.  Know what constellation appears through the dome slit?  If so, send me an email and if you are right I'll make it worth your while!

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