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NASA Astronomy Picture of the Day:

Nature photographers and other fans of planet Earth always look forward to the blue hour. That's the transition in twilight, just before sunrise or after sunset, when the Sun is below the horizon but land and sky are still suffused with beautiful bluish hues of light. On August 8 this early morning blue hour panorama scanned along the clear western sky, away from the impending sunrise. A breathtaking scene, it looks down the slopes of Mt. Whitney, from along the John Muir Trail toward rugged peaks of planet Earth's Sierra Nevada mountain range. Above the horizon a faint pinkish band of back scattered sunlight, the anti-twilight arch or Belt of Venus, borders the falling grey shadow of Earth itself. Subtle bands of light across the clear sky are anti-crepuscular rays, defined by shadows of clouds near the sunward horizon. Actually following parallel lines they seem to converge along the horizon at the point opposite the rising Sun due to perspective.

Photo by Matthias Ciprian

NASA Astronomy Picture of the Day:

Dark skies are disappearing from the world. With modernization comes artificial lighting that brightens the night. While these lights allow modern humans to see, much light is wasted up into the sky. This light pollution not only wastes energy, but, when reflected by the Earth's atmosphere back down, creates a nighttime brightness that disrupts wildlife and harms human health, while doing very little to prevent crime. Light pollution is also making a dark night sky a scarcity for new generations. While there is little that can be done in large cities, rural country areas could benefit from lighting that is fully shielded from exposing the night sky where it is not needed. The featured panorama contains 6 adjacent vertical segments taken from different locations across Slovakia -- but with the same equipment and at the same time of night, and then subjected to the same digital post-processing. Although no stars are visible on the left-most city sky, the right-most country sky is magnificently dark. You can help protect the wonders of your night sky by favoring, when possible, dark sky friendly lighting.

Photo by Tomas Slovinsky Text: Matipon TangmatithamNARIT

NASA Astronomy Picture of the Day:

What happens if you keep going north? The direction north on the Earth, the place on your horizon below the northern spin pole of the Earth -- around which other stars appear to slowly swirl, will remain the same. This spin-pole-of-the-north will never move from its fixed location on the sky -- night or day -- and its height will always match your latitude. The further north you go, the higher the north spin pole will appear. Eventually, if you can reach the Earth's North Pole, the stars will circle a point directly over your head. Pictured, a four-hour long stack of images shows stars trailing in circles around this north celestial pole. The bright star near the north celestial pole is Polaris, known as the North Star. The bright path was created by the astrophotographer's headlamp as he zigzagged up a hill just over a week ago in Lower Saxony, Germany. The astrophotographer can be seen, at times, in shadow. Actually, the Earth has two spin poles -- and much the same would happen if you started below the Earth's equator and went south.

Photo by Mario Konang

NASA Astronomy Picture of the Day:

Many spiral galaxies have bars across their centers. Even our own Milky Way Galaxy is thought to have a modest central bar. Prominently barred spiral galaxy NGC 1672, featured here, was captured in spectacular detail in an image taken by the orbiting Hubble Space Telescope. Visible are dark filamentary dust lanes, young clusters of bright blue stars, red emission nebulas of glowing hydrogen gas, a long bright bar of stars across the center, and a bright active nucleus that likely houses a supermassive black hole. Light takes about 60 million years to reach us from NGC 1672, which spans about 75,000 light years across. NGC 1672, which appears toward the constellation of the Dolphinfish (Dorado), has been studied to find out how a spiral bar contributes to star formation in a galaxy's central regions. Notable APOD Submissions: Gallery of Venus passing in front of the Pleiades

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