måndag 30 september 2013

Comet C/2012 S1 ISON

Following the discovery of the 'new' comet, named C/2012 S1 ISON, in September last year, public expectations of comet ISON have been sky-high, since it has been predicted to become one of the brightest comets in a long time.

At the time of its discovery by the two Russian amateur astronomers Vitali Nevski and Artyom Novichonok the comet was as faint as magnitude 18.8 and, although it’s now much closer to the Sun, it is still faint (mag 12-14) and impossible to see with the naked eye.

Yesterday morning, however, I managed to catch the comet on a photo using a 300mm lens with a 1.7 x converter, but since ISON is poorly placed low in the sky in a light-polluted part of the sky as seen from my observing spot, the result is poor. Being my first attempt simply to see if I could detect it at all, I didn’t bother with taking any calibration frames and the shot is simply a crude stack combining eight 30-second shots at high ISO.

My first 'detection' of comet ISON - 29 Sept 2013

As always with comets, it is notoriously difficult to predict whether they will put on memorable displays or disappoint and fail to “deliver”, but ISON is expected to reach the naked-eye magnitude 6 in November and, depending on if it survives perihelion passage or not, may be visible to the naked eye until early January 2014.

Let’s hope for another amazing sky show later this winter – at least is was nice to “see” that the comet is on its way as it passed by planet Mars - making it my 24th comet that I have caught with a camera without the use of any telescope. Hopefully it will be possible to catch it without any camera at all later this year - Northern Lights Photography wishes you all clear skies!

torsdag 19 september 2013

Astronomy Photographer of the Year 2013

Each year, the prestigious international photo-competition "Astronomy Photographer of The Year" is arranged by the Royal Observatory Greenwich, UK and yesterday the winners of 2013 were announced during an award ceremony in London.

The competition is divided into three main categories, "Earth and Space", "Our Solar System" and "Deep Sky", where astro-photographers around the world compete about the title for the world’s best astronomy photo. Detailed information about the competition can be found here.
This year, more than 1200 high-quality entries from all around the world entered the competition and I was therefore very happy and honored to receive both 2nd and 3rd place in the category “Earth and Space of the competition for my images “Green Energy” and “Icy Visitor”. The first place and overall winner of the competition was Mark Gee from Australia who was awarded first place for his spectacular photo “Guiding Light to the Stars” from New Zealand – congratulations Mark – you are a very worth winner!
All winning images can be seen at the recent media coverage of the photo-competition by NRK here
“Green Energy”

"Icy Visitor"

Out of the 24 finalists, three photographers also got a visit by a film-team from London that travelled to the places where some of the winning images were captured to understand the story behind the photos. I was one of the lucky photographers to receive a visit, and together with the film-crew we returned to the spot where I took my photos and yesterday Royal Observatory Greenwich released a short-film on Vimeo telling the tale behind the awarded images (in English): Fredrik: Sharing the magic of the northern sky


fredag 13 september 2013

Autumn Milky Way

The moon-free nights in September is the perfect time to go out and watch the Milky Way - the combined glow of millions of stars in the disk of our galaxy.

Since the Earth's nightside faces the heart of the galaxy at this time of the year, seeing the Milky Way, arching from east to west in the autumn sky, is truely a sight worth seeing.

måndag 9 september 2013

Bird Photo of the Week / Ukens fuglebilde - 37

Most birds are leaving the high-north now after the breeding season - but not all

In September, a tiny little warbler, no more than 9-10 cm, instead travels a very long distance westwards from the northern Russian taiga and some end up here in Scandinavia. The reason for this long-distance autumn migration is, as far as I know, not understood, but it's a most welcome guest!

And, two days ago, the first of the autumn's yellow-browed warblers was back among the autumn leaves here on Kvaløya again.

Yellow-browed Warbler / Gulbrynsanger / Taigasångare (Phylloscopus inornatus)

tisdag 3 september 2013

Bird Photo of the Week / Ukens fuglebilde - 36

This week's bird-photo portraits one of the smallest and cutest birds that we have in our fauna - the Wren / Gjerdesmett (Troglodytes troglodytes).

The northernmost distribution limit of  the species lies here in Troms in Northern Norway, and what was once a familiar species to me when I lived in Sweden, is now a rare sight. A quick and unexpected meeting in the forest two days ago was actually the first time for me to see this otherwise fairly common species up here in the north.

Eurasian Wren / Gjerdesmett (Troglodytes troglodytes)

söndag 1 september 2013

First northern lights of the season + bright nova

After a long summer without any proper nights since April, it has finally started to get dark enough in the evenings to see stars once again and now, on the night between 30-31 August, the first auroras of the season could be seen here in Tromsø, dancing in green and purple over a starry sky.

For the first time it was also possible to get a glimpse of the new "star", being an exciting nova in the constellation Delphinus.