Posts Tagged ‘Astronomy’

A Sun Pillar Over North Carolina

January 29, 2009

“A Sun Pillar Over North Carolina”
© Copyright Terry Holdsclaw

I’m a big fan of the Astronomy Picture of the Day, and I also like sunrises and sunsets. When I saw Terry Holdsclaw’s photo from the Astronomy Picture of the Day entitled “A Sun Pillar Over North Carolina” shown above, I was awestruck. The colors in the photo are phenomenal. It’s a very vibrant photo, like a jolt of caffeine to wake you up in the morning. Click the photo above to see a larger version.

I like the composition of the photo too, with the branch in the upper-right corner to give the scene a sense of depth. That’s a subtle framing effect. Read more about framing in the Photobird Daily article “Composition Is Key“.

According to the Astronomy Picture of the Day, a sun pillar, which is shown vertically in the middle of the photo in the sky and reflected in the water, is caused by sunlight reflecting off ice crystals when the air is cold and the Sun is rising or setting. For more details, see the Astronomy Picture of the Day for December 15, 2008.

I’ve written before about the Astronomy Picture of the Day and if you like this photo, I think you’ll like the others too. Be sure to click the photos to see larger versions.



L.A. Never Looked So Good

December 24, 2008

“A Happy Sky Over Los Angeles”
© Copyright Dave Jurasevich

Los Angeles has nice beaches and a few nice neighborhoods and towns in the area, but otherwise, it’s not a place I get excited about visiting, especially with all of the traffic.

But I really like this photo entitled “A Happy Sky Over Los Angeles” that I saw on the Astronomy Picture of the Day. I’ve written before about a few of their photos that I thought you might like as well, such as “From Moonrise to Sunset“, “Planets Ahoy“, and “Aurora Persei”.

In the photo above, I like the relatively smooth landscape of the valley floor, with the thin haze illuminated by the city lights. The city lights dotted at the bottom are cool too. Note that the composition of the land and sky uses the Rule of Thirds.

I like the openness of the image, which makes it feel like you’re there. The silhouettes of the trees in the lower left and in the upper right help give the photo perspective and depth; they act as a frame for the photo, which we’ve written about before in the Photobird Daily.

Finally, the planets and the Moon in the photo are very secondary, at least for me. They’re attractive yet miniscule — overshadowed by the rest of the image. Perhaps even elegantly so. Highest in the sky is Jupiter with Venus under it, and of course, the crescent Moon. The Astronomy Picture of the Day seems to think the two planets and the Moon make a face, with the two planets as eyes and the crescent Moon as a smile. I really didn’t “see” the face there the first few times I looked at the image, and I think it’s a stretch, but it’s a neat idea.

Whichever way you look at it, I hope you agree that it’s a beautiful photo.


The World At Night

October 15, 2008

“Madison Moonrise”
© Copyright John Rummel

If you like night photography, now is a good time to start practicing (at least in the northern hemisphere). Here are some articles in the Photobird Daily that focus on shooting at night:

If you’re really passionate about night photography, check out “The World At Night” website at They live, breathe, eat, and sleep night photography. They have over 600 stunning night photos on their website.

They also have an Education page with a four-page article entitled “Capture the Cosmos” which is “A beginner’s guide to sky photography, including tips on how to create TWAN-style images with modest equipment.”

Here’s a list of pages on where you can view photos:

In addition to the photo shown above, “Madison Moonrise” by John Rummel — which is not an edited image, by the way — here are links to a few other photos on that I really liked:

A final note if you’re interested in photography and astronomy: In the description of John Rummel’s photo “Madison Moonrise”, he says “Catching a moon rise in the immediate vicinity of the dome can be calculated with the help of astronomy software, and as a result, I journey there about 3 or 4 times a year to catch the action.” We have an article in the Photobird Daily entitled “Position the Sun Exactly Where You Want It” which will probably also help you position the Moon, and everything else in our galaxy, exactly where you want them.


Planets Ahoy!

October 3, 2008

Photo © Copyright Mike Salway

I like this photo entitled “Planets Ahoy!” by Mike Salway, which was featured as the Astronomy Picture of the Day a few days ago.

There’s a few things I like about the photo. There’s several compositional elements that are well done. The “line” of the pier is a good one. You might even say that there’s an imaginary line from the girl’s finger to Venus, the brightest and highest object in the sky. Read more about this technique in our Photobird Daily article entitled “Look for Lines to Create Visual Interest“.

The Rule of Thirds is prominent in this photo too. The horizon of the water is at the bottom, with the planets on the left side. I didn’t notice this at first, but the girl is directly in the middle of the photo, and it works very well.

In fact, the photo has great balance, if you really consider the objects mentioned above. All of the “action” is in the left side of the photo, with the girl pointing to the planets. But the pier angling to the right, and leading your eyes that way, helps balance everything out. The bonus is that you get to see a larger part of the sky, which is important in this photo because it gives you the impression that you’re on the dock too, looking up at the expansive sky. Cropping the right side of the photo out of the picture wouldn’t have given us the same feeling of “being there”.

If I was shooting this photo, I think I would have instinctively composed the photo with the girl on the right side of the photo, totally disregarding the end of the pier, and I think my photo would not have come out as good as this one. Keeping the girl in the middle of the frame with the planets on the left improves the intimacy of the photo and makes the link between the girl and the planets much stronger, while still giving us the big, huge sky.

I also like the color in the photo, with the dark blue sky above and the red-orange remnants of the sunset below, outlining the mountains. The reflection on the water is a great touch.

Impressive photo.


Astronomy Picture of the Day

August 27, 2008

“Aurora Persei”
© Copyright Jimmy Westlake

If you like astronomy like I do, then you’ll like the Astronomy Picture of the Day. Every day, NASA shows a different picture related to astronomy, whether it’s a photo of a distant galaxy from the Hubble Space Telescope, or a photo of an eclipse, or a photo from an event on one of the planets in our solar system. They also include a description of the picture. For example, in the photo above entitled “Aurora Persei“, astronomer Jimmy Westlake captured the bright Perseid meteor passing by an auroral glow over Colorado in August of 2000.

Here’s more of my favorites that were recently shown on the Astronomy PIcture of the Day:


While we’re peering above the stratosphere, check out this photo below from The Big Picture, which I wrote about a couple of weeks ago in regards to its photos of the 2008 Olympics Opening Ceremony. From the photo series “The Sky, From Above“, this photo shows a dust storm over the Sahara Desert. I don’t know about you, but looking at this picture makes me feel pretty small and insignificant. Very humbling.

I like this photo because, one, you can see the curvature of the Earth, which provides a sense of tangibility, like a ball that we can pick up. Two, you can see the ground, which provides an unusual change of perspective, since we’re not accustomed to seeing the ground this way. And three, you can see the clouds, which are normally huge and above us, obviously, but in this picture they’re quite small and below us, like a spill on the kitchen floor. Fascinating perspective.

What do you think of these photos? Please let me know in the comments.

Dust storm over the Sahara.
© Copyright NASA