APOD: Aurora over New Zealand (2014 Feb 26)

Comments and questions about the APOD on the main view screen.
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APOD: Aurora over New Zealand (2014 Feb 26)

Post by APOD Robot » Wed Feb 26, 2014 5:08 am

Image Aurora over New Zealand

Explanation: Sometimes the more you look at an image, the more you see. Such may be the case for this beautiful nighttime panorama taken last week in New Zealand. Visible right off, on the far left, are common clouds, slightly altered by the digital fusion of combining 11 separate 20-second exposures. More striking, perhaps, is the broad pink aurora that dominates the right part of the image, a less common auroral color that is likely tinted by excited oxygen atoms high in Earth's atmosphere. Keep looking and you might notice a bright light just beyond the mountain on the left. That is the rising Moon -- and an even closer look will reveal faint crepuscular rays emanating from it. Musing over the image center may cause you to notice the central band of the Milky Way Galaxy which here appears to divide, almost vertically, the left clouds from the right aurora. Inspecting the upper right of the image reveals a fuzzy patch, high in the sky, that is the Small Magellanic Cloud. Numerous stars discretely populate the distant background. Back on Earth, the image foreground features two domes of the Mt. John University Observatory and a camera tripod looking to capture much of this scene over a serene Lake Tekapo.

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SouthEastAsia

Re: APOD: Aurora over New Zealand (2014 Feb 26)

Post by SouthEastAsia » Wed Feb 26, 2014 6:19 am

Brilliant write-up on this image, really. A pleasing style to read... and a nice pic of planet Earth and night sky too.

Alexpuff

Re: APOD: Aurora over New Zealand (2014 Feb 26)

Post by Alexpuff » Wed Feb 26, 2014 8:01 am

Why would be a yellow line on the horizon just on the right part of the image ? HDR tone mapping ?

Alex

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Re: APOD: Aurora over New Zealand (2014 Feb 26)

Post by vanvlak » Wed Feb 26, 2014 9:14 am

There seems to be a meteor trail above the cloud too.

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Re: APOD: Aurora over New Zealand (2014 Feb 26)

Post by Nitpicker » Wed Feb 26, 2014 10:56 am

Alexpuff wrote:Why would be a yellow line on the horizon just on the right part of the image ? HDR tone mapping ?

Alex
This was taken on a Summer evening from a rather southerly latitude and the yellow horizon appears to the South-West. So it could be the last remnants of the evening twilight.

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Re: APOD: Aurora over New Zealand (2014 Feb 26)

Post by Nitpicker » Wed Feb 26, 2014 10:58 am

vanvlak wrote:There seems to be a meteor trail above the cloud too.
The fact that the trail has a constant intensity and doesn't appear to fade in or out, suggests to me that it is an artificial satellite.

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Re: APOD: Aurora over New Zealand (2014 Feb 26)

Post by zbvhs » Wed Feb 26, 2014 1:42 pm

The view is mainly to the south and most of the color is due to aurora circling the South Pole. Since NZ is south of the Equator, sunsets occur to the northwest and the moonrise is to the northeast. You have to think down-under. The faint streak above the cloud is most likely a meteorite. The photo is a composite of eleven separate images and a satellite trail would be segmented.
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Re: APOD: Aurora over New Zealand (2014 Feb 26)

Post by Boomer12k » Wed Feb 26, 2014 1:56 pm

That is just an awesome shot with so much variety....

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Re: APOD: Aurora over New Zealand (2014 Feb 26)

Post by geckzilla » Wed Feb 26, 2014 4:18 pm

Nitpicker wrote:
Alexpuff wrote:Why would be a yellow line on the horizon just on the right part of the image ? HDR tone mapping ?

Alex
This was taken on a Summer evening from a rather southerly latitude and the yellow horizon appears to the South-West. So it could be the last remnants of the evening twilight.
Looks like aurora to me, as zbvhs already mentioned.

Edit: Oh! There are actually some hidden details in the sky visible if you darken it. Check out the auroral streaks and crepuscular rays!
david_weir_aurora_nz_darker.jpg
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chrisathena

Re: APOD: Aurora over New Zealand (2014 Feb 26)

Post by chrisathena » Wed Feb 26, 2014 5:15 pm

Thanks for the helpful comments on viewing this spectacular photo. In another life, I would love to have learned more about these phenomena. This website is great.

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Re: APOD: Aurora over New Zealand (2014 Feb 26)

Post by Nitpicker » Wed Feb 26, 2014 8:51 pm

zbvhs wrote:The view is mainly to the south and most of the color is due to aurora circling the South Pole. Since NZ is south of the Equator, sunsets occur to the northwest and the moonrise is to the northeast. You have to think down-under. The faint streak above the cloud is most likely a meteorite. The photo is a composite of eleven separate images and a satellite trail would be segmented.
In Summer in the Southern Hemisphere (Dec-Feb), sunset is to the South of West (it is easier to think down under when you live here). As for moonrise, regardless of the time of year, it is between North-East and South-East, depending on the phase of the Moon. (Things are not as simple in tropical or polar zones, but this image is from somewhere in between.)

In this image, the Sun is not that far below the horizon. The yellow is either twilight, or the effect on the aurora, of the Sun being apparently close by.

sdflyguy

Re: APOD: Aurora over New Zealand (2014 Feb 26)

Post by sdflyguy » Wed Feb 26, 2014 8:56 pm

What about the multiple whitish vertical rays near the middle of the aurora? Are they part of the aurora itself?

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Re: APOD: Aurora over New Zealand (2014 Feb 26)

Post by Ron-Astro Pharmacist » Wed Feb 26, 2014 9:05 pm

geckzilla wrote:
Nitpicker wrote:
Alexpuff wrote:Why would be a yellow line on the horizon just on the right part of the image ? HDR tone mapping ?

Alex
This was taken on a Summer evening from a rather southerly latitude and the yellow horizon appears to the South-West. So it could be the last remnants of the evening twilight.
Looks like aurora to me, as zbvhs already mentioned.

Edit: Oh! There are actually some hidden details in the sky visible if you darken it. Check out the auroral streaks and crepuscular rays!
david_weir_aurora_nz_darker.jpg
I like the darker version better than the APOD. With the panographic capabilities available today, it's getting hard to tell how close a photograph is to a 360 degree view when you are not familiar with the landscape. I won't miss the fisheye lens photos if they go away.
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Re: APOD: Aurora over New Zealand (2014 Feb 26)

Post by Nitpicker » Wed Feb 26, 2014 9:10 pm

Yes, I'd say the whitish rays are definitely part of the aurora.

And I should correct myself ... moonrise is between North-East and South-East, depending on the phase of the Moon and the current position of sunrise. The Moon is close enough to the Ecliptic to say that if the Sun rises in the South-East, then the New Moon will rise in the South-East, Full Moon in the North-East and the Quarter phases in the East.

(And I'm still going with satellite for the streak near the clouds. There are many possibilities to explain a single continuous streak.)

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Re: APOD: Aurora over New Zealand (2014 Feb 26)

Post by LocalColor » Wed Feb 26, 2014 10:42 pm

Lovely photo.

jaybird

Re: APOD: Aurora over New Zealand (2014 Feb 26)

Post by jaybird » Thu Feb 27, 2014 1:40 am

geckzilla wrote:
Edit: Oh! There are actually some hidden details in the sky visible if you darken it. Check out the auroral streaks and crepuscular rays!
david_weir_aurora_nz_darker.jpg
I really like this beautiful view and I like it even more in this darkened version. Gorgeous!

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Re: APOD: Aurora over New Zealand (2014 Feb 26)

Post by vanvlak » Thu Feb 27, 2014 5:53 am

Nitpicker wrote:
vanvlak wrote:There seems to be a meteor trail above the cloud too.
The fact that the trail has a constant intensity and doesn't appear to fade in or out, suggests to me that it is an artificial satellite.
Looking at the full size image I think you're right.