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Beautiful sub-auroral arcs across the sky: what we know so far about the phenomenon

October 14, 2017

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Watching October celestial objects rise

October 19, 2017

Have you ever noticed the actual increments by which the planets, stars, and other things of the sky seem to be displaced every day around the equinoxes? Unless you have a very sharp eye and an immobile reference, it's almost impossible... Well, not if you have a 500mm lens!  

 

 

 

I sat on my terrace every morning from October 17th to the 19th, starting around 5:30 till around 8:00. In this time period, you were able to witness many dazzling spectacles. Warm and fussy under a blanket, I was watching over my camera, which was shooting mostly towards the east and south-east. Mornings cannot start better than when you are greeted by our moon, planets, stars, and our star! What was there to see, and what was so special about it? 

 

 

Well firstly I think this image speaks for itself. On October 17th, you would have found a 3% waning crescent moon rising over the eastern horizon, along with the yellow 'morning star' Venus (higher in this picture), and Zaniah, a fainter star. If you had the chance to observe the moonrise a day earlier, you would have found a neat conjunction of the same arrangement plus Mars (too high for this picture). However the best morning to photograph the event was the 17th, because the dark side of the moon was just perfectly illuminated by the Earth shine, the pre-dawn glow. Look how sharp and contrasted our natural satellite is. 15 minutes earlier it was too dark, 15 minutes later it was too bright. I also love the symmetry of the shot, helped by the Swiss Alps in the background. I would have loved to have some snow on the mountains, but hey, you cannot get it all. It looks like the tree in the foreground is lit up by a flash, but it's actually because there are 6 sodium-vapor street lamps right next to me, and I thought they would completely ruin the shot. Besides that, I am shooting from my terrace that overlooks a roundabout, with a lot of passing traffic, potentially shedding light and flares. It actually turned out alright though and I got a lot of praise on social media for this shot, and I am quite happy with the result! Did you also witness this stunning view?

 

 

Secondly, if you stayed long enough outside at the exact same spot as me three mornings in a row, you would have experienced something quite unique. Sunrises are by nature very special and each is unique. They generate a soothing feeling of renewal, beginning and empowerment. However I wanted even more! I had this idea for awhile, and I took the chance. The 'Dents Blanches' mountains in Switzerland, which name means 'white teeth' because of the jagged-edge shape of its ridges, face our terrace on the southern horizon. While the sun was lifting off this sharp horizon, the peaks diffract the emerging sunlight in a very unusual way, offering a dazzling spectacle of sun rays, blue light, and beads, much like at the end of a total eclipse! At 500mm, you notice how much the sun rises further away to the west Each day. The sequences are not in order, but you can certainly see that on the 17th it rose right between the peaks, and on the 19th it was completely west of the mountain ridge! Notice the planes passing by to land in Geneva. They seem to fly in an atmosphere filled with fluff, pollen and dust shining in the sun! Certainly a rare show that could only be recorded from where I am at the period of the year and in these lenient October weather conditions!

I am certainly looking forward this weekend's special celestial event: the Orionid meteor shower with up to 30 meteors per hour! Go out and look around the Orion constellation, and you might be in for a treat!

 

 

As a bonus, here's some milky way pictures I have been taking about a week ago in the Jura mountains in France (my new temporary backyard):

 

 

 

 

 

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