60-second Astro News: Three Stunning Astronomy Pictures

Three must-see astronomy pictures: Catch the just-released photo of last year's eclipse, 15,000 galaxies revealed in Hubble's new ultraviolet view of the deep sky, and star formation in action in the spiral galaxy M74.

A Higher View of Totality

When Jon Carmichael arrived for his Southwest Airlines flight 1368 on August 21, 2017, he was terrified. “I worried I would miss this once-in-a-lifetime moment.”

But he didn't. As millions of people watched totality pass over the continental United States, Jon Carmichael photographed the beautiful view from a vantage point thousands of feet higher, aboard an airplane that took him from Portland, Oregon, to St. Louis, Missouri.

Carmichael arrived at the gate armed with all his camera gear and $600 cash. Southwest doesn't have assigned seating, but when he introduced himself to the flight crew, they gave him seat 1A, and the captain himself cleaned Carmichael's window. What's more, the flight crew agreed to perform a series of five 180° turns while under the Moon’s shadow. The resulting views helped Carmichael capture the shots he needed to produce the stunning composite image below.

For Carmichael's account of his eclipse-photography project, watch this 2-minute video.

Jon Carmichael's composite of August 2017's total solar eclipse

© 2018 Jon Carmichael. All rights reserved

Hubble Photographs 15,000 Galaxies

Over the course of 132 orbits around Earth, the Hubble Space Telescope has imaged ultraviolet radiation in a region of sky covering 100 square arcminutes. That's 14 times the area of the Hubble Ultra-Deep Field. The result of this enormous effort is the Hubble Deep UV (HDUV) Legacy Survey, a catalog that includes 15,000 galaxies at so-called "cosmic noon," when the universe's star formation peaked. Unsurprisingly, almost all of these galaxies (12,000) are bursting with new stars. The survey will help astronomers understand star formation and galaxy evolution back to the dawn of time. It's also a captivating image in and of itself. Pascal Oesch (University of Geneva, Switzerland) and colleagues have published the catalog in July's Astrophysical Journal Supplement Series.

15,000 galaxies in Hubble Deep UV Legacy Survey

About 15,000 galaxies appear in this ultraviolet image, most of them at "cosmic noon," when the universe's star formation peaked.
NASA / ESA / P. Oesch (Univ. of Geneva) & M. Montes (Univ. of New South Wales)

New stars emit primarily ultraviolet radiation. But the expansion of space stretches the wavelength of light coming from distant galaxies at cosmic dawn. What was once ultraviolet radiation falls on detectors at infrared wavelengths. Until now, astronomers weren't easily able to interpret these infrared emissions, because only a few deep ultraviolet studies had been attempted for relatively nearby galaxies. The HDUV Legacy Survey solves that problem, giving astronomers the broad-spectrum information they need to understand star formation at its peak.

Read more and find higher-resolution images in NASA's press release.

Seeing Spiral Galaxy M74 in a New Light

Speaking of star formation, a fascinating new image shows how star formation proceeds in the galaxy M74. Kathryn Kreckel (Max Planck Institute for Astronomy, Germany) and colleagues imaged the nearby spiral using the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) and the MUSE instrument on the Very Large Telescope.

As the images are able to resolve details smaller than 200 light-years across, the two images together (superimposed below right) show exactly how stars form in the galaxy's spiral arms. ALMA traces millimeter-wavelength emission from the cool gas reservoirs that feed forming stars (blue at right below), while MUSE tracks the hydrogen-alpha emission that comes from star formation itself (yellow at right below).

M74 star formation

Compare this optical image of spiral galaxy M74 (left) with the view at right created with ALMA (blue) and MUSE (orange) images superimposed to show where stars are forming in M74.
Left: Adam Block / Mount Lemmon SkyCenter / Univ. of Arizona / Wikimedia Commons; Right: Kreckel et al., Astrophysical Journal Letters, 20 August 2018

The spiral patterns seen at millimeter and visible wavelengths don't rotate themselves; rather, they trace the evolution of the wave of star formation that's passing through the galaxy's disk. The blue-colored spiral shows the earliest stages of star formation, while the orange-colored spiral shows the stars, newly formed.

Read more about these observations and their implications for M74's evolution in the August 14 Astrophysical Journal Letters.

26 thoughts on “60-second Astro News: Three Stunning Astronomy Pictures

  1. Russell SampsonRussell Sampson

    Mr. Carmichael’s image is a work of art, and as such there appears to be a certain amount of artistic license. If one uses the diameter of the eclipsed moon as a scaled ruler (1 apparent lunar diameter = 0.5 degrees), one can estimate the angular distance between the horizon and the eclipse – about 9 degrees. Estimating the height of the aircraft to be 25,000 feet gives a horizon dip of roughly -2.5 degrees. This translates to a sea level altitude of the eclipse to be about 6.5 degrees. From Fred Espenak’s interactive Google map of the August 21, 2017 eclipse path, the nearest geographic coordinates necessary to produce this would be about 41.4N and 163.4W – smack dab in the middle of the Pacific Ocean and not between Portland, OR and St. Louis, MO. Thus, once again, it appears that modern image manipulation software has produced an image with suspect information.

      1. Frank-ReedNavigation.comFrank-ReedNavigation.com

        The separate “images” of the eclipsed sun and the landscape showing the Snake River are genuine, yes, but this is a composite. It’s a work of art that has placed a photo of the eclipsed Sun into a background landscape where it could not possibly be during the eclipse. The Sun is much too low in the sky (or the Sun has been magnified), as Professor Russel Sampson (ECSU) has already noted quite accurately, and the direction is all wrong, too. The landscape in the photo has us facing NORTH at the time of the photo. If you ever see the Sun in the north while flying over Idaho, please call me! The actual direction to the Sun from this location was southeast (about 126° true) during the eclipse, and its altitude was above 45°. I gather the photographer used image-stacking to reduce the distortions in the photo from the otherwise optically-marginal windows found in commercial aircraft. Clever!
        So should we be bothered? No, not necessarily, so long as we understand that it’s an artistically composed image. This beautiful digital composite is “evocative” of the view that could be seen from that altitude. It helps us, who were not there, to imagine what it was really like for people who could see it during that flight. And the photographer, Jon Carmichael, makes it very clear in the presentation he did before Twitter corporate a few weeks ago that he was trying to create an image that would evoke feelings, feelings about the beauty of a rare event and feelings about the unity of mankind and the fragility of the earth. He did this by creating an image that, technically, did not exist in the real world. You could say that this photo-mosaic “captures what could not be captured” …but it’s important to remember that it is not representational art –not a scientifically accurate view of the real scene. Of course, one could argue the same thing about nearly every astronomical photograph so it’s not really an indictment. Just something to keep in mind…

        Frank Reed
        Conanicut Island USA

    1. Frank-ReedNavigation.comFrank-ReedNavigation.com

      Professor Sampson,
      Good catch on the altitude! You’re right, of course. Flying over western Idaho, the altitude of the Sun would have been about 45° during totality. In addition, the section of the Snake River displayed in the image shows that we are looking north, along the Snake River on the western border of Idaho. The Sun from this location was high in the southeast near 125° true azimuth. The Sun has been moved.
      So, yes, it’s digital artwork. It is “evocative” of the view that would have been seen –it “captures what cannot be captured”, but it’s been manipulated somewhat to make an attractive composition. Then again, isn’t that true of nearly every astronomical photograph? It’s important to recognize that this photo is a composite, but it’s not a “fraud” in any sense, right?
      The photographer, Jon Carmichael, works for Twitter corporate, and Jack Dorsey, CEO of Twitter, gave him an enormous opportunity to describe this eclipse project a few weeks ago at a corporate event. You can find the video online. Carmichael describes some of the steps he took and how he had to make composites from individual images because the aircraft windows are such narrow views. In the video of the presentation posted by Twitter and also in a video posted by Southwest, you can see a little chart of the ground track. These clearly show legs in the track where the plane is flying toward the northeast so that passengers would be looking straight out to starboard to see the eclipsed sun, alternating with legs for the other side of the plane. Carmichael presumably combined images captured on these legs with images captured on the other legs (or possibly a few minutes earlier) while looking nearly due north up the valley of the Snake River.
      It’s a beautiful composite. It’s a beautiful piece of astronomical artwork, grounded in real astrophotography.

      Frank Reed
      Conanicut Island USA

      1. Frank-ReedNavigation.comFrank-ReedNavigation.com

        I think I have a better model of how the image was modified. The landscape is a panorama covering maybe 150°-180° of azimuth (compass direction) made by stitching together multiple shots taken out the aircraft window. This means that the photo covers the whole range of directions from northwest through southeast (not something a human could see at once, but you could imagine the “photo” projected onto the interior of a dome covering that range). The altitude of the Sun is also approximately consistent in this case since the vertical extent of the image would be about 110° (from about 50° below the horizon to 60° above). Then, the whole image makes sense if the eclipsed Sun has simply been MAGNIFIED in the final composite. It’s in more-or-less the right location but scaled up by roughly a factor of six. This is a common trick in landscape representations of the Moon (or an eclipsed Sun) because it just doesn’t “look right” at its natural size. It’s also a common trick in many planetarium projections for the same reason. The Moon is often scaled up by a factor of four on the planetarium dome (and if you dig around in the settings in the desktop planetarium software “Stellarium”, you’ll find you can do the same 4x upscaling of the Moon in there, too). That’s the part of this image that’s unreal: a significantly magnified image of the eclipsed Sun. Once again, this is “evocative” of what an observer would see. It’s the artistry that makes it look spectacular, and would resemble what an observer would remember subjectively, even though the scale has been significantly modified in objective terms.

        Frank Reed
        Conanicut Island USA

    2. Frank-ReedNavigation.comFrank-ReedNavigation.com

      Prof. Sampson, you concluded your note by saying:
      “modern image manipulation software has produced an image with suspect information.”

      And there’s more. I find that the real problem with digital image manipulation is that it is both relatively easy (after a long learning-curve, of course) and it’s seductive. It starts as a little tweak here and there, but pretty soon you’re making drastic changes.
      While trying to analyze Jon Carmichael’s photo-mosaic a bit more, I discovered a stunning example of this. In one portion of the landscape under the Sun, specifically features directly below the eclipsed Sun, he has FLIPPED the photo left-to-right. There are a number of lighter albedo features in that area of the landscape including one that is shaped like a shield (a few miles across just east of Smith’s Ferry, Idaho). The point of the shield points north in the real world but in the photo-mosaic it’s pointing south. A large number of other features here beyond the Payette River in Idaho have been flipped left-to-right this way. These are features in approximately the right direction, and they would have been seen below the Sun, as they are in the photo-mosaic, but somehow during editing, Carmichael reversed that portion of the mosaic. Given that there is such significant, non-realistic editing (flipped elements, eclipsed sun magnified six times, forced horizon curvature), this mosaic really has to be counted as more art than astronomy, in line with your original comment. Nonetheless, it’s beautiful and “evocative” of the view he experienced… And there’s nothing wrong with evocative art…
      Maybe like all representational artwork, the image should tagged “Ceci n’est pas une éclipse solaire”. 😉

      Frank Reed

    1. Frank-ReedNavigation.comFrank-ReedNavigation.com

      Yes, he’s very clear that it’s a composite, but what is not quite so clear is that the Sun was MOVED. The Sun was drastically re-positioned to make a more attractive composite. As I say in other comments, the image is “evocative” of the real event. It captures the feeling of it by modifying the reality of it.

      Frank Reed

      1. Frank-ReedNavigation.comFrank-ReedNavigation.com

        Just to reiterate from my other follow-up message above, I am now more inclined to believe that the image looks unrealistic primarily because the eclipsed Sun was MAGNIFIED (by roughly a factor of six) rather than moved. Secondarily, the composite covers a panoramic view of around 180 degrees of compass directions from northwest to southeast. Note that it is not unusual to magnify the Moon (or in this case the eclipsed Sun) in astronomical panoramas to achieve a more memorable subjective appearance, even though it is a bit of a cheat on the objective appearance.

        Frank Reed

      2. Kelly BeattyKelly Beatty

        Frank… I reached out to Jon Carmichael, and here’s his comment. Note that the Sun/Moon position is correct:

        As an artist, there are certain decisions you need to make to convey the message you want to communicate in the most impactful way. The sun and moon are positioned where they were and slightly enlarged for sake of brain-perception-accuracy. Every planetarium theater around the world enlarges their sun and moon as well – as our minds actually interpret them as larger when seen in real life. It’s an mysterious phenomenon that scientists still don’t quite understand. I figured if all the planetariums need to do this to match our mind’s perception of the size for the greater good of getting people excited about science, then so will I. I put much thought and research into the fine balance of accuracy and aesthetics in the final image. I’m happy people are talking about it. Some won’t like it and that’s okay. “The point” of art is the message it brings and to inspire others. This was one of the most uniting moments in United States history and it’s very simple why – for a brief moment in time, everyone in America became an astronomer. My hope for this image, in any small way, is to be a reminder of that unity, make the general public excited about astronomy again, and to educate people on what totality is. I hope our fellow astronomy enthusiasts align with that goal and don’t get too caught up in the measurements and instead focus on the big picture.

        1. Frank-ReedNavigation.comFrank-ReedNavigation.com

          Kelly Beatty, you wrote:
          “Note that the Sun/Moon position is correct”
          Well, the best we can say is that the position is “close” in the context of a panorama about 180° wide and 110° tall. After realizing last night that the “non-realist” issue in the image was definitely the substantial magnification of the eclipsed Sun (see my posts above), I tried to confirm that it was at least placed in the right spot in the panorama, but, as noted (also above), this proved impossible because the section of the distant landscape directly below the eclipsed Sun was REVERSED (mirrored –flipped left to right!) at some point during the creation of the mosaic. This may well have been nothing but a technical mistake, but it’s yet another aspect of the “unreality” of the scene. And it means there’s really no way to say objectively whether the eclipsed Sun is positioned correctly or not.

          Jon Carmichael wrote that “The sun and moon are positioned where they were and slightly enlarged”. Well… the eclipsed Sun has been substantially enlarged. It’s larger by a factor of about five or six (I don’t think 600% qualifies as “slightly”) but I do agree that this is reasonable for the sake of the subjective appearance, and I noted this in my messages last night, even bringing up the planetarium projection example which Jon also mentions (for many years in planetarium programs for my classes I have used the 4x enlargement of the Moon on the dome as a jumping-off point for discussions of ocean tides –which are proportional to the angular diameter of the generating body cubed).

          Jon Carmichael wrote: “Some won’t like it and that’s okay.” As I have noted above, this image does a nice job creating an “evocative impression” of the eclipse. That doesn’t mean I don’t like it! Nonetheless, it is not a photo (or photo-mosaic) of the actual view of the eclipse. It’s highly modified for effect. And “that’s okay” so long as the viewer has some reasonable understanding of what’s going on, right? Cheating a little for artistic effect is just fine, and imaging tricks have been with us in astro-photography and other forms of photography since the first film cameras were invented. You made the eclipsed Sun bigger (just as we do in planetarium projections) simply because it looks better that way! You enhanced the curvature of the horizon because you wanted to increase the “feeling” that the observer is nearly in space, with a “cosmic” perhaps even “spiritual” viewpoint –above the noise and fray of the mundane world. These things are understandable artistic “effects”. On the other hand, I can’t imagine any way to explain away the mirrored landscape below the eclipsed Sun. That’s just digital editing gone bad…

          Finally, none of this is going to have even the tiniest negative effect on the image’s impact. You’ve already been invited on-stage at a huge event by your boss at Twitter corporate. The image and videos about the image and its adorable backstory have already gone massively viral. And you will sell many posters and other professional prints and licenses of the image. You’re gonna make some serious money and have the spiritual impact you want, no matter what we discuss regarding the astronomical details… I still think you need a caption on some version of the image that says “Ceci n’est pas une eclipse solaire” Of course it isn’t! As Magritte was stating so blatantly, art is art… a painting of a pipe is not a pipe, but it makes you think of a pipe. A digitally-modified photo-mosaic of an eclipse is not an eclipse, but it is “evocative” of the feeling of that eclipse.

          Frank Reed
          Conanicut Island USA

          1. Frank-ReedNavigation.comFrank-ReedNavigation.com

            The landscape section directly below the eclipsed Sun was pasted into the composite MIRRORED (flipped left to right), as I’ve noted. Even so, I’ve been able to determine the azimuth of the original frame. It was approximately 55°. That is, the camera was pointed towards 55° true azimuth (northeast) when this section of landscape was photographed. The eclipsed Sun was near azimuth 126° (southeast) about 70° away from the landscape displayed beneath it. So it’s simply not possible to say that whether the Sun was moved or not because the landscape beneath it does not belong there (and obviously would not be mirrored left to right by any natural cause).

            Frank Reed

    1. Monica YoungMonica Young Post author

      Hi StanR, The abstract of the paper states, “The HDUV extends and builds on the few previous UV imaging surveys in the two GOODS/CANDELS-Deep fields to provide deep images over a total area of ∼100 arcmin2 in the two filters F275W and F336W.” So in fact the fields do cover an area of 100 square arcminutes!

  2. Trekkieal

    Im confused on the A Higher View of Totality…Jon was on commercial airliner? The composite photo appears to be taken at near orbit altitude…that’s not possible on a commercial jet?

    1. Frank-ReedNavigation.comFrank-ReedNavigation.com

      You noted that the
      “composite photo appears to be taken at near orbit altitude…”

      Yes… First of all, Jon Carmichael said that this was intentional during his editing process. He was looking for that “space-like” view. So how did he achieve the illusion of an orbital altitude?
      First, the eclipse itself helps by turning the sky black. You can even see Regulus about one degree to the lower left of the eclipsed Sun (where it should be, consistent with the 6x magnified view of the eclipsed Sun and the immediately surrounding portion of the sky). A black sky with an illuminated horizon behind us (the left side of the image is really in a direction opposite the Sun) looks a lot like an orbital view.
      Second, when Carmichael created his composite he gave significant curvature to the horizon. At an altitude of 40,000 feet, the “dip” or depression of the horizon is just about 3.2 degrees. Now suppose you have taken a bunch of frames extending around nearly 180 degrees in azimuth. If you place those on a flat surface (a virtual flat surface in the case of a photo-mosaic), you necessarily face a problem of projecting a sphere, just like the problem of projecting the globe of the Earth onto a flat map. If we think in terms of altitude-azimuth coordinates, the standard projection would place the true horizon in the middle of the projection as a straight line running from horizontally across, and a line of altitude 3.2 degrees below that would ALSO be a straight line. There should be no curvature to the horizon in this photo-mosaic. You can get curvature when it’s not supposed to be there by aiming the virtual “camera” (the central point of the projection) below the horizon near the center of the image. If you do that, then the visible horizon will appear to bow up, curving upward at the center. And this creates a strong illusion that the observer is in space. (note: if you’ve ever seen images from balloons launched by kids to the “edge of space”, the imagery is usually taken with a fisheye lens which adds even more illusory curvature… while there is “real” curvature just barely visible at these altitudes, photography and image-processing greatly exaggerate it, as in this photo-mosaic, too).

      Frank Reed

  3. gschneider

    Regarding thus obviously composited “image”. On viering, it immediately did not ring true as a photograph, but rather is instantly identifiable as a composite with liberal artistic license. As already commented by Russell Sampson in these comments, the angular diameter of the Moon of 1/2 deg serves as a ruler to directly measure the conjured altitude of the eclipsed sun above the horizon. Even with the apparent horizon depressed by ~ -3.4 deg as it would be at 39,000* ft (less at lower altitudes), the elevation angle of the Sun above the horizon is simply WAY to low in the sky to be taken anywhere over the continental US. I didn’t need to pull out a ruler measure the height of the Sun in the photo to confirm that, just an eyeball estimate of ~ 10 deg shows this is way out of scale. Immediately inland from Portland in the path of totality the solar elevation angle at mid-eclipse was ~ 40 deg – and higher further inland. A more detailed forensic analysis would reveal more (including mis-matches in the umbral projection on the ground and in the sky given the image of the eclipse itself is very close to second contact), but this is about a factor of 4x or more in solar elevation is far out of wack!

    (per: https://www.usatoday.com/story/travel/flights/todayinthesky/2018/08/21/2017-solar-eclipse-best-image-southwest-airlines-flight/1050918002/)

    Here I am not debating subjectively on the possible merits of such images conveyed with artistic bending of reality considered by some as “inspirational” – clearly that side of the ‘argument’ can be made. Though, I personally do not grok such “anatomically incorrect” photographs. But what is missing here is a clear statement accompanying the release of the photo saying something to the effect “This artistically composited representation of the eclipse” rather than simply “this stunning image” that the more casual (or unfamiliar) reader would almost certainly take as rendered with fidelity (which it is not) rather than with exaggeration and deviation from reality.

    There remains one thing, however, I do not understand. The S&T accompanying text says that to obtain the photos needed (to make the composite) the aircraft performed “a series of five 180-degree turns while under the Moon’s shadow” (this is also said on John Carmichael’s web site). By “while under the Moon’s shadow” (to get the photos needed) one would assume under the UMBRAL shadow (i.e., in totality). The time it takes to execute a 180 degree turn in an aircraft depends upon the aircraft speed and the bank-angle for the turn. If one assumes a bank angle of 35-deg (commercial passenger aircraft rarely turn at higher bank angles, and typically lower), and with a very typical appx 500 mph air speed (as also said in the USA Today article), that time is 1.7 minutes. So to make 5 such successive turns (as shown on the https://joncarmichael.com/collection/108 page) would take appx 8.5 minutes. Whereas the duration of totality (not extended significantly by the aircraft speed while making such turns as shown) in the area of the path of totality indicated was only about 2m 10 sec. So, I do not understand making these maneuvers over a period of ~ 8.5 minutes, while totality would last only a little over 2 minutes.

    -Glenn Schneider

    1. Frank-ReedNavigation.comFrank-ReedNavigation.com

      As I’ve noted above, by my best model of the image, the apparent error in elevation angle arises mostly because the Sun was substantially magnified when placed in the composite. This is a common trick in images of the Moon in the sky (and it’s used in all planetarium projections), but it makes it impossible to measure the angular altitude of the eclipsed Sun in the image. In his comment to Kelly Beatty, Jon Carmichael (the photographer) replied that he “slightly” enlarged the eclipsed Sun. I estimate that the enlargement is roughly a factor of six. That’s not what I would call “slightly” enlarged, but it is roughly consistent with the enlargements you’ll see on planetarium domes (usually a factor of four), so fair enough.

      By the way, regarding the doglegs in the flight, as you note, they would not have been under totality for more than a small fraction of the time taken, but you’ll learn in the videos (including Jon’s presentation before Twitter’s big corporate event –he is a professional photographer for Twitter) that the flight crew was well-prepared for this in advance and had brought along pairs of eclipse glasses for all the passengers. So they would have been able to watch the stages of deep partial eclipse (over 99% obscured) for several minutes just before and after totality during those back-and-forth legs. I presume Jon Carmichael was capturing landscape imagery during these phases to incorporate them into his composite. As I have noted in messages above, at least one section of landscape, directly beneath the eclipsed Sun in the composite, was in fact FLIPPED left to right (as I have said, I wouldn’t be surprised if this was a simple editing mistake!), and therefore it’s very likely that other landscape segments were processed in other ways in order to “synchronize” them to the time of totality. In film, they would say “we’ll fix it in post”. Landscape not under totality when we need it to be?? Then apply “La nuit américaine”….

      Frank Reed

  4. Russell SampsonRussell Sampson

    Wow. Good work S&T for allowing us to do this and kudos to Frank Reed for his – as usual – profound and thoughtful analysis.

    I believe one of the most important things to remember here is that this is an astronomy forum, published by an astronomy magazine, written and read by astronomers, and therefore … if the astronomy is wrong (altitudes, azimuths and angular diameters make up some of the very bedrock of our hobby and our profession) then it is our duty to point it out.

    Also, and this may be even more important, there are people and organizations out there that are actively trying to fool us in an attempt to manipulate crucial parts of our lives and our society. So, even though the transgressions in this image are minor in the grand scheme of things, if we don’t keep a skeptical eye on what is being published we may become susceptible to more nefarious agendas. In a dramatic cat and mouse game, the world of image manipulation is being countered by the ever-more complex science of image analysis. To get a taste, I recommend reading “How to Detect Fake Photos” by Hany Farid, (2017) American Scientist, 105, 2, p. 77 (March-April), which is also available online at:


    Stay vigilant everyone.

  5. AB

    “…don’t get too caught up in the measurements” sounds like “don’t bother me with the facts”. A planetarium show is not the same as a photo which most people who aren’t astronomers will take as “fact”. I’m sick of all the “oh wow”ing that facebook friends do over obviously (to a photographer) manipulated images that they think are real because they don’t know the difference. People are losing the ability to recognize false information, and the initiative to even try to confirm falsehood before they pass it on. Yes, it’s an interesting picture. My own diamond-ring shot is amateur and not that great, but, it’s “real” and I’m happy with it because of that. Without writing an entire page of analysis, I just agree with the comments that there should be more effort to state that this is “art” and not meant to be a factual representation.

  6. Frank-ReedNavigation.comFrank-ReedNavigation.com

    I became quite familiar in the past few days with the outline of a couple of mountain-farming regions in Idaho, as well as the shape of Lake Cascade and the meander belt of the Payette River just before it pours into Lake Cascade (over the “cascade” there). The shield-shaped farming area about two miles across just east of Smith’s Ferry, ID is quite distinctive, and there’s also a distinctively-shaped farming region, resembling a jigsaw puzzle piece, about six miles southwest of Smith’s Ferry called “High Valley” on the maps. These are visible just below the eclipsed sun, but they’re flipped, as a mirror-image, as I’ve already described (you have to crank up the contrast a bit to see High Valley). Imagine my surprise tonight when I FOUND THEM AGAIN! In the same photo-mosaic, we’ve been discussing but off towards the left closer to the Snake River. This was a different view of these areas probably photographed earlier in the flight with greater foreshortening, but it’s all there: Lake Cascade, the meander belt of the Payette, those two distinctive farming regions. Not mirrored this time, but entirely in the wrong place geographically-speaking. As I noted in an earlier message, the trouble with digital editing is that it’s seductive. It’s so easy to paste in random bits of landscape in places where they don’t belong to make a pretty picture. But we have definitely crossed a line here… This is photography-BASED artwork. This is not an artistically-enhanced photograph.

    I agree with you, Russell Sampson == have a “skeptical eye” on these things and “stay vigilant”. Not because this image is some kind of fraud or crime, of course. It isn’t at all. But there is value –great value, at the very heart of science– in being able to see the difference between an honest representation of reality … and a magic trick.

    Frank Reed
    Clockwork Mapping / ReedNavigation.com
    Conanicut Island USA

  7. RobPettengill

    Limitations of cameras make multiple exposures and composites necessary to capture many astronomical scenes, that are easy to see with our eyes. I’m comfortable with this and use these techniques frequently. On an image with the amazing scope of this one, I understand how an artist might want to alter the perspective scale of the image to give us a closer view of the solar corona as well as the vast view of the earth’s shadow.
    I am however disturbed by the reversal of the sun’s corona. The distinctive arrowhead shape in this eclipse pointed towards the east in the western US during this eclipse. In this image it points down towards the western horizon. This top to bottom flip is confirmed by a close look at a larger version of the image on the artists web site. The bright star Regulus was about a degree to the east of the sun during the eclipse. In this image it is between the sun and the western horizon.
    Sadly this false orientation of the solar corona spoils my enjoyment of the art in this piece and I don’t think that the image should be used in a science oriented publication.

  8. Frank-ReedNavigation.comFrank-ReedNavigation.com

    Rob, I checked the orientation of the Sun a few days ago, as well as I could based on the position angle of Regulus. It’s rotated somewhat (maybe 20°), but if the composite is a panorama around 150-180° wide, and given that the Snake River, prominent on the left side of the composite, is generally to the north in the field of view, then the eclipsed Sun is in the southeast in the composite (where it should be), and Regulus is at least on the correct side of the Sun. Of course, as I’ve described above, the landscape below the Sun makes no sense at all and cannot be used to confirm the orientation since it is a mirrored portion of a photograph taken looking toward the northeast.

    1. RobPettengill

      Thanks Frank, I should have expressed my assumption that the image was taken to the WSW. This was taken a bit further east. I checked with SkySafari and the direction of the sun from eastern Idaho mid eclipse is an azimuth of 152 degrees SSE. This still puts Regulus well to the east (left of the sun relative to the horizon) and not between the sun and southern horizon. It looks like the image of the sun and regulus is rotated around 50 degrees counter clockwise with respect to the local horizon.

      It’s a beautiful hodgepodge, but very confusing to anyone who wants to relate it to the reality of the eclipse.

All comments must follow the Sky & Telescope Terms of Use and will be moderated prior to posting. Please be civil in your comments. Sky & Telescope reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter’s username, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.