Rare image of US Air Force's secretive space plane in orbit

Astrophotographer Ralf Vandebergh captured an image of the US Air Force's X-37B space plane in orbit. The reusable, uncrewed space vehicle, designated OTV-5, is on a secret testing mission since its launch in September 2017. From Vandebergh's post at Spaceweather.com:

I have been hunting for the OTV-5 since months and saw it visually in May. When I tried to observe it again mid June, it didnt meet the predicted time and path. It turned out to have maneuvered to another orbit. Thanks to the amateur satellite observers-network, it was rapidly found in orbit again and I was able to take some images on June 30 and July 2. This most recent pass was almost overhead. The OTV is a small version of the classic Space Shuttle, it is really a small object, even at only 300 km altitude, so dont expect the detail level of ground based images of the real Space Shuttle. Considering this, the attached images succeeded beyond expectations. We can recognize a bit of the nose, Payload Bay and tail of this mini-shuttle with even a sign of some smaller detail.

Images were taken through a 10 inch F/4,8 aperture Newtonian telescope with an Astrolumina ALccd 5L-11 mono CMOS camera. Tracking was fully manually through a 6x30 finderscope.

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Awe-inspiring timelapse of galaxies sparkling in the skies

Adrien Manduit (previously) returns with a breathtaking timelapse of galaxies as viewed from Teneriffe. Read the rest

NASA's gorgeous music video for Claude Debussy's "Clair de Lune"

The scientist/artists in NASA's Scientific Visualization Studio created this magnificent video to accompany a recent performance by the National Symphony Orchestra Pops of Claude Debussy's "Clair de Lune." From NASA:

The visuals were composed like a nature documentary, with clean cuts and a mostly stationary virtual camera. The viewer follows the Sun throughout a lunar day, seeing sunrises and then sunsets over prominent features on the Moon. The sprawling ray system surrounding Copernicus crater, for example, is revealed beneath receding shadows at sunrise and later slips back into darkness as night encroaches...

The visualization uses a digital 3D model of the Moon built from Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter global elevation maps and image mosaics. The lighting is derived from actual Sun angles during lunar days in 2018.

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Astounding finalist images for Astronomy Photographer of the Year

The Royal Museums Greenwich announced the shortlisted images from their Astronomy Photographer of the Year 2018 and the photos are absolutely breathtaking. They'll announce the winners in October. See more at: Insight Investment Astronomy Photographer of the Year 2018 shortlist gallery

Above: "RS34358_NGC 6726 and NGC 6727" by Mark Hanson, Warren Keller, Steve Mazlin, Rex Parker, Tommy Tse, David Plesko, Pete Proulx.

Below: "Aurorascape" by Mikkel Beiter; "Expedition to Infinity" by Jingpeng Liu

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How a photographer captured Elon's Tesla hurtling through space a million miles from earth

Deep-sky photographer Rogelio Bernal Andreo did the calculations, then managed to catch footage of Starman and the Tesla Roadster that were launched via the Falcon Heavy rocket. Read the rest

Stunning image of airglow bands around the Milky Way

Xiaohan Wang was driving near Keluke Lake in Qinghai Province in China, but stopped to snap this lovely image of airglow bands framing the Milky Way. Read the rest

One filmmaker's breathtaking 2017 in timelapse

Filmmaker Adrien Mauduit collected his favorite timelapse shots of 2017 into a contemplative piece that is a lovely way to look back at 2017 and ahead to 2018. Read the rest

Magnificent photo of the International Space Station transiting the moon

On Saturday, space photographer John Kraus, age 17, captured this magnificent image of the International Space Station transiting the full moon. He took the photo using a Nikon D500 and Nikkor 200-500mm lens on an equatorial mount used for astrophotography. This wasn't a lucky shot. It took John weeks of planning. From Kraus's article at Petapixel:

As the ISS orbits Earth at 17,500mph, or roughly five miles per second, the transit lasted just 0.90 seconds.

This transit was visible from a narrow path stretching from the middle of Florida to the east coast. I was stationed in a very specific location, as being just several tenths of a mile can throw off a planned transit photo.

Given that the transit occurred so quickly, and I was in such a specific location, it’s natural to ask how I calculated the information required to take this photo. Luckily, I didn’t have to, as there’s a website dedicated to finding out transit info.

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