Metallic photos of the sun by renowned photographer Greg Piepol bring together the best of art and science. Buy one or a whole set. They make a stellar gift.
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SOLAR PROMINENCES: Got a solar telescope? Point your optics at the limb of the sun. Observers around the world are reporting a pair of prominences big enough to see in startling clarity through safely-filtered amateur instruments. Here are some scorching snapshots: #1, #2, #3, #4, #5.
LUCKY DAY: Friday the 13th must be a lucky day. Just look how it began in Australia with a lovely triangle of planets beaming through the morning twilight:
"We had pristine conditions here on the Northern Beaches of Sydney, which allowed me to observe and photograph Venus, Jupiter, and Mercury rising above the Pacific Ocean," reports Geoff Sims. "The planets were even bright enough to cast reflections on the water, similar to those of a crescent Moon."
And then the day got really lucky. "The ISS flew by the planets when they were a mere few degrees above the horizon - spectacular!"
Friday the 13th isn't so bad after all. Now set your alarm for dawn, because Saturday the 14th is going to be a lucky day, too.
more images: from Melissa Hulbert of Sydney, Australia; from Kosma Coronaios of Limpopo Province, South Africa; from Darrin of Ipswich, Queensland, Australia; from Paul Tatum at the National Mall west of the US Capitol, Washington DC; from Elizabeth Warner of Arlington, VA; from Marion Haligowski of Phoenix, Arizona
MAMMATUS OVER MINNESOTA: On May 10th, a severe storm captured national attention when it dumped golf-ball-sized hail on a Minnesota Twins baseball game. "I missed the hail," reports John Rogers of New Hope, Minnesota, "but I got a nice view of the clouds that formed after the storm passed." He snapped this picture in waning twilight at 8:30 pm local time:
These are mammatus clouds. Named for their resemblance to a cow's underbelly, they sometimes appear at the end of severe thunderstorms when the thundercloud is breaking up. Researchers have called them an "intriguing enigma," because no one knows exactly how and why they form. The clouds are fairly common but often go unnoticed because potential observers have been chased indoors by the rain. If you are one of them, dash outside when the downpour stops; you could witness a beautiful mystery in the sky.
more images: from John A. Ey III of Tucson, AZ
April 2011 Aurora Gallery
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