It seems to be the month for stunning Mars images. Not just from the spacecraft, but from amateurs too. Damian Peach, who gets amazing and incredible results whenever he looks at the sky, sent me this animation. It’s a compilation of his 2005 images of Mars, comprising a full rotation of the planet. As Mars sails into the morning skies ahead of its opposition at the end of the year, it’s a reminder of just how good Earthbound views can be.
The fourth of the entries in the Sky at Night magazine’s ‘Hotshots’ competition is our second photo of the Great Orion nebula, M42, which couldn’t look much different from the last one. This one was taken through narrowband filters in order to avoid the worst of the light pollution, which seems to have brought out the extended emission nicely.
More content to follow with any luck later today, but for now here’s the third of the hotshots; the Moon over St Paul’s cathedral. I really can’t make up my mind over this shot. The cross in front of the full Moon is fantastic, but the plane (amusing though it is) seems to detract from the sight. I end up looking at the cross, and then the plane, and then back to the cross again, and never really looking at the Moon. Still, make your own minds up.
The second entry for the competition is this shot of the great Orion nebula. This happens to be my favourite object in the sky (and if it isn’t yours, why on Earth not?); I saw it first through my own six inch reflector, on a very dark and clear night and I can still remember the feeling as the sheer three-dimensional nature of it struck me. I also remember the colour; a green that you just don’t seen anywhere else, so I’m always slightly biased against pictures that show it as pink. Don’t let that put you off, though.
One of the most enjoyable tasks I’ve had in the last few weeks (along with moving office to a different city, and finding a flat, and submitting my thesis…) was judging the Sky at Night magazine’s photo competition. Now, they’re not having any sort of public vote, relying on a panel of judges to select ‘Hotshots image of the year’, but the images are so good I thought I’d post them here over the next two weeks or so.
I’ll reveal who took what once all eleven are up. The first is below.