It may appear to be day, but it’s night. Those wondrous orange streaks may appear to be rays from the setting Sun, but they’re actually thin clouds illuminated by the Moon as they quickly streaked toward the distant horizon. The thick clouds on the far left may appear to have many layers, but actually they are just a few simple clouds captured on numerous separate exposures. What is surely true, though, is that the above time lapse image sequence was taken over two hours, about two weeks ago, in Sounio, Greece. Also, those really are star trails swirling around the north star Polaris on the upper right of the image. But what about the building in the foreground? It may appear to be a famous ancient structure, but it’s actually a small deserted church built only last century.
Sometimes the sky above can become quite a show. Last week, for example, the Moon and Venus converged, creating quite a sight by itself for sky enthusiasts around the globe. From some locations, though, the sky was even more picturesque....
A starry night over the city of Dubai in the United Arab Emirates is really not so starry. In fact, the Moon is the only celestial beacon to come close to competing with city lights in this night skyscape, a situation all too familiar to urban skygazers. The futuristic looking scene is dominated by the 800 meter tall Khalifa Tower, presently the tallest free standing structure on planet Earth. But for now you should also be able to make out a few of the very brightest stars in Earth’s night sky. Capella is left of the tower and Aldebaran, Betelgeuse, Rigel, and stars in Orion’s Belt can just be identified in the heavily light-polluted skies. Need some help finding them? Slide your cursor over the image.
Why is this horizon so colorful? Because, opposite the Sun, it is raining. What is pictured above is actually just a common rainbow. It’s uncommon appearance is caused by the Sun being unusually high in the sky during the rainbow’s creation. Since every rainbow’s center must be exactly opposite the Sun, a high Sun reflecting off of a distant rain will produce a low rainbow where only the very top is visible — because the rest of the rainbow is below the horizon. Furthermore, no two observers can see exactly the same rainbow — every person finds themselves exactly between the Sun and rainbow’s center, and every observer sees the colorful circular band precisely 42 degrees from rainbow’s center. The above image featuring the Eiffel Tower was taken in Paris, France last week. Although the intermittent thunderstorms lasted for much of the day, the horizon rainbow lasted for only a few minutes.
This 70-shot photo sequence shows a lightning display that occurred during a severe thunderstorm last summer on the island of Ikaria, Greece, near the southwestern coast of Turkey. The stormy weather actually developed during my photo session of the total lunar eclipse on June 15, 2011 (see related link below). To make this shot, I set my camera on a tripod taking 20-second exposures continuously. More than 100 lightning bolts were captured in this sequence, the majority of which were potent cloud-to-ground strikes.
What kind of cloud is next to that mountain? A lenticular. This type of cloud forms in air that passes over a mountain, rises up again, and cools past the dew point — so what molecular water carried in the air condenses into droplets. The layered nature of some lenticular clouds may make them appear, to some, as large alien spaceships. In this case, the mountain pictured is Mt. Hood located inOregon, USA. Lenticular clouds can only form when conditions are right — for example this is first time this astrophotographer has seen a lenticular cloud at night near Mt. Hood. The above image was taken in mid-March about two hours before dawn.