This is the Oldest Surviving Photo of the Moon

These days anyone with a cheap point-and-shoot camera or even a cell phone can snap a picture of the Moon (although I highly advise using at least an entry-level dSLR) but there was a time when that wasn’t the case. Go back to the late 1830s, when photography was in its infancy and methods for capturing light…

Supplement Your Day With This Calcium Image of the Sun

Our Sun may be made up of 98% hydrogen and helium but the remaining two percent comprises many other elements, detectable by their unique absorption lines within the gamut of white light we receive on Earth. One of those elements is calcium, which exists in ionized form in relatively tiny amounts in the Sun’s chromosphere…

Alan Friedman on Photographing the Sun

I’ve featured many of Alan Friedman’s amazing photos of the Sun here on Lights in the Dark, starting from the very first one I came across via the venerable Astronomy Picture of the Day (APOD) in November 2009. I’ve even featured Alan’s work in several articles I’ve written for National Geographic News, Discovery News, and Universe…

Saturn’s Backlit Beauty

As a sort of Christmas gift to the world, the Cassini mission team released this image today, a majestic mosaic showing the planet Saturn gleaming in backlit sunlight. “Of all the many glorious images we on Cassini have received from Saturn, none are more strikingly unusual than those we have taken from within Saturn’s shadow,”…

Our Sharpest (Ground-Based) View of Pluto Yet:

Real planet, dwarf planet, KBO… who cares? What matters here is that astronomers from NASA, NOAO and the Gemini Observatory have created the sharpest image of Pluto ever made with ground-based observations — and developed a new way to verify potential Earth-like exoplanets at the same time. Not too shabby, I’d say. Here’s how they…

One “Big Blemish” – AR 1339

Another fantastic image by Alan Friedman, this shows the massive sunspot region AR 1339 as it appeared on November 5, 2011 while in the process of rotating into view – and aim! – of Earth. Estimated at about 17 times the width of Earth, AR 1339 contains some gigantic sunspots capable of producing high-powered solar…

Last Night’s Moon

Crescent Moon w/Earthshine, originally uploaded by Lights In The Dark. The Moon looked especially nice last night (April 5), crescent-lit at dusk and the rest illuminated by cool blue Earthshine! (That’s sunlight reflected off the Earth and onto the Moon…and then back to the Earth to our eyes!) The image above was taken without a…

It’s (Not) the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown

Good grief! What a cool image this is: the Sun as photographed by Alan Friedman in hydrogen alpha light. The detail in the surface (photosphere) is simply amazing, especially considering the image was taken with a backyard telescope (albeit a very fancy backyard telescope!) Click the image to go to Alan’s page where you can…