Astro Advent 2022 Days 9-16

Astro Advent 2022 Days 9-16
Limestone pinnacles in Nambung National Park in western Australia with a brilliant skyscape above them. [Image & copyright: Jingyi Zhang]

Christmas 2022 is past, but the daily "astro advent" images in the Astronomy Forum are still there to enjoy. The second eight days included both a magnificent aurora and a superb meteor shower.

Not all of these images have links, but there's a link to the forum at the end of this article.

9 The Central West Astronomical Society of Australia holds an annual AstroFest in a celebration of astronomy. Its astrophotography competition is named for David Malin, a noted British-Australian astronomer and astrophotographer. Austin Turpin was the winner in the Junior category. His winning image was titled How small it makes me feel. The citation read: “This striking image is a selfie, created at the end of a cloudy night, by a young man with some imagination. His lightbeam makes for a simple but excellent V-shaped composition that catches the eye.”

10 When atomic particles from the Sun cascade onto the Earth's upper atmosphere, it glows like a fluorescent lamp. This is an aurora. Since our planet's magnetic field funnels the solar particles down a ring around the poles, the place to see aurorae is in the far north or far south. This photo was taken near Yellowknife in northern Canada in a time of notable solar activity. [Image credit & copyright: Kwon, O Chul (TWAN)]

11 There are lots of strange things to see in deep space. One is a binary star system 6000 light years away in the constellation Cygnus. It has rings that look like part of an enormous spider web. Astronomers aren't sure exactly what they are, but confident that giant spiders aren't involved. NASA says that "rich in dust, the rings are likely 3D shells". The binary system is made up of two massive Wolf-Rayet stars. When they approach each other about every eight years, X-ray emission increases and dust increases.

12 Jupiter's moon Io is the most volcanic body in the Solar System. Io's volcanoes are so active it's as though they're turning the moon inside out. Some of the volcanic lava is hot enough to glow in the dark. Pictures of Io usually remind me of a giant pizza. However, using photos taken by the Galileo spacecraft, a "true color” image shows the moon as predominantly yellow.

13 The Geminids are a beautiful mid-December meteor shower. This composite was created from images taken in Heilongjiang province in northeastern China in an area of dark skies. Fantastic sight, but a piercing -28°C! (That's -18°F.) The radiant of a meteor shower is where the paths of the meteors seem to originate. The radiant in this shower is close to two bright stars – Castor and Pollux, the twins. [Credit & copyright: Jeff Dai (TWAN)]

14 “Concordia research station in Antarctica is located on a plateau 3200 meters above sea level. A place of extremes, temperatures can drop to -80°C in the winter, with a yearly average temperature of -50°C. At Concordia the Sun does not rise above the horizon in the winter and does not set in the summer. During the harsh winter no outside help can be flown in or reach the base over land. The nearest human beings are stationed some 600 km away at the Russian Vostok base, making Concordia more remote than the International Space Station. The base is so unlike anything found elsewhere in the world that ESA participates in the Italian-French base to research future missions to other planets, using the base as a model for extraterrestrial planets.” [European Space Agency (ESA)]

15 William Herschel was the first person to discover a planet. His sister Caroline discovered eight comets. Together they catalogued 2500 celestial objects. A house where they lived for a time in Bath, England is now the Herschel Museum. William discovered Uranus while observing in its garden. The museum commissioned a sculpture of the Herschels by Vivien Mousdell for the 250th anniversary of William's birth. “William is behind his sister dressed in eighteenth-century style. His head is titled back as he looks at the sky with a gentle and benevolent smile. Caroline Herschel is in front of him and wears a cap. She holds a quill pen in her right hand and is looking down at a piece of paper on which is drawn the solar system with the planet Uranus at the centre. The piece evokes the siblings' close relationship and shared passion for astronomy.” [Herschel Museum]

16 The Pinnacles shown at the top of the page are made of ancient sea shells. In the sky above them, the photographer captured a superb panorama. “Prominent in the dramatic sky is the arch of the central band of the Milky Way. Rising from the horizon near the image center, there is is a ray of zodiacal light, which is sunlight reflected by dust grains orbiting between the planets of the Solar System.” Jupiter and Saturn are there and some well known stars. The forum entry has a link to an annotated version of the skyscape.

Link to Astro Advent forum thread

You Should Also Read:
Astro Advent 2022 Days 1-8
Geminids - a December Spectacle
Volcanoes - Fire and Ice

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