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Earlier this month, there was a lunar eclipse. A special feature of the eclipse was that some people also saw the lunar occultation of Mars. The Moon hid Mars for about an hour as it passed between the Earth and Mars. [Composite image Credit & copyright: Tom Glenn [APOD]

The occultation happened when both Mars and the Moon were lined up with the Earth and the Sun. ”In the image Mars appears to rise just over ancient, dark-floored, lunar crater Abel very close to the southeastern edge of the Moon's near side. Humboldt is the large impact crater to its north (left).”

Mars Reappears from behind the Moon
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What's a fire rainbow? Technically, it's a circumhorizontal arc. No fire is involved. And it's not a rainbow, as it's not formed by raindrops. But it looks rather like flickering flames, and there are rainbow-like colors. It's a rare sight, most likely to be seen polar regions. However, this one was spotted near the North Fork Mountain in West Virginia, USA. [Image Credit: Christa Harbig]

"For a circumhorizontal arc to be visible, the Sun must be at least 58 degrees high in a sky where cirrus clouds present below. The numerous, flat, hexagonal ice-crystals of the cirrus cloud must be aligned horizontally to properly refract sunlight." [APOD]

Fire Rainbow over West Virginia
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Above the Milogradovka River in Primorsky Krai, Russia, Anton Komlev had an idea for a beautiful shot. He wanted to capture a splendid pine tree with the Central Band of the Milky Way behind it. And he did. [Image credit & copyright: Anton Komlev][APOD]

“Komlev got what he wanted and then some. Colorful stars dot the distant background, with bright Altair visible on the upper left. The planet Saturn was just over the horizon on the far left. Just beyond the Earth's atmosphere, seen in the upper right, an Earth-orbiting satellite left a streak during the 25-second exposure. Even the Earth's atmosphere itself was visible as green airglow across the image top. And finally, just by chance, there was a firefly. Do you see it? It blinked in yellow several times.” Click to see an annotated image.

Firefly Milky Way over Russia – click to enlarge
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Last edited by Mona - Astronomy; 12/17/23 04:45 PM. Reason: updated link
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Multimedia artist Judy Schmidt has put together an amazing collection of 100 planetary nebulae - those colorful glowing shells of gas and plasma, all at apparent size relative to one another. She says, “colors are aesthetic choices, especially since most planetary nebulas are imaged with narrowband filters.” [Credit & copyright: Judy Schmidt [Universe Today]

”Planetary nebulae are formed by certain types of stars at the end of their lives, and actually have nothing to do with planets. They were given the confusing name 300 years ago by William Herschel because in early, rudimentary telescopes, the puffed out balls of gas looked like planets. Our own Sun will likely undergo a similar process, but not for another 5 billion years or so.”

Behold 100 Planetary Nebulae
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"At the Lawrence Hall of Science in Berkeley, California, USA, visitors can observe sunset on the day of the winter solstice using the Sunstones II. Sight lines in the Sunstones II structure let visitors view the process of the sun’s northernmost and southernmost setting at these solstices.” Sunstones II was created by UC Berkeley astronomer David Cudaback and sculptor Richard O’Hanlon.

Only close to an equinox does the Sun set due west. From the northern hemisphere equinox, the sunsets move slowly northward. At the December solstice, astronomical winter begins. The precise moment of the winter solstice is when the Earth’s north pole points directly away from the Sun, and the Sun is directly over the Tropic of Capricorn.

Sunset at Winter Solstice
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Over 70 million light years away in the southern constellation Sculptor lies NGC 289, a beautiful spiral galaxy larger than the Milky Way. Its spiral arms are a delicate blue, and sweep over 100 thousand light-years from the center. [Image credit & copyright: Mike Selby][APOD]

”At the lower right in this sharp, telescopic galaxy portrait the main spiral arm seems to encounter a small, fuzzy elliptical companion galaxy interacting with enormous NGC 289.”

Beautiful Spiral in Sculptor
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Last edited by Mona - Astronomy; 02/01/23 04:24 PM.
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The Drombeg stone circle in County Cork, Ireland is a megalithic ring of stones. It's one of several of this type erected in southwest Ireland in the Bronze Age. [Image credit: Nick Mitchell][Silent Earth]

The circies ”were oriented towards the Solar cycle (midwinter sunset).”

Shadows Cast at Sunset
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A stunning skyscape of solar ice halos was captured by Magnus Edback in Utendal, Sweden. There are many kinds of halos, but rarely is there such a spectacular display of numerous types. [Image & copyright: Magnus Edback][APOD]

“The patterns are generated as sunlight (or moonlight) is reflected and refracted in flat six-sided water ice crystals in Earth's atmosphere. In this case, likely local contributors to the atmospheric ice crystals are snow making machines operating at at nearby ski center.”

Extraordinary Solar Halos
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Comet Leonard wowed observers and astrophotographers alike in 2021. Austrian photographer Gerald Rhemann took advantage of its bright appearance in the dark winter skies to photograph it. He had perfect weather at Tivoli Farm, Namibia on Christmas night. Rhemann said, “I recognized that the comet’s tail looked dramatic in the first image I took, so decided to extend the field of view with a second image and that’s where the disconnection happened.” A disconnection event happens when a piece of the comet's tail becomes separated after being hit by high velocity solar particles. [Credit: Gerald Rhemann][Sky at Night][Royal Observatory Greenwich]

Rhemann was the overall winner of the Astronomy Photographer of the Year 2022 held by the Royal Observatory Greenwich. The judges were described as “blown away”. One said, “This picture of a recent visitor has been captured so beautifully. The stars in the background give the comet's tail a magical appearance.”

Disconnection Event
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