Far Sighted

Among the best astronomy photographs of this year’s UK Royal Observatory competition are several pictures of space from Earth.

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In the picture by J Woodend, UK, you can see the icebergs floating in the glacier lagoon and their reflections (in the background is the Vatnajökull Glacier). The pale-green glow of the aurora comes from oxygen atoms high in the atmosphere, energized by subatomic particles blasted out by the Sun. The particles are funnelled down towards the north and south poles by the Earth’s magnetic field.

A total eclipse of the sun by the moon is shot from an aeroplane by C Beldea (Romania). She flew above the clouds and chased the Moon’s shadow as it raced across the eastern shore of Lake Turkana, Kenya. Nevertheless, the duration of the eclipsed sun was only ten seconds and the photo was shot through the open door of the small aeroplane.

A picture by M James (Australia) is from a wind farm and shows star tracks.  One from Deep Space is by W Snyder (USA) of the Horse Head Nebula.

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See more pictures at the Royal Observatory web-site and at the exhibition at Greenwich.