Astro Advent 2021 Days 1-8

Astro Advent 2021 Days 1-8
The ALMA telescope array in Chile [Photo: Geoff Crew, MIT News]

Christmas 2021 is past now, but the daily astro advent images posted in the Astronomy Forum are still available to enjoy. The first eight days of the astro countdown to Christmas included the return of comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko (67P), carrying two earthly passengers. There was also an aurora in Canada, a strange spiral in the constellation Pegasus, and some vivid skyscapes.

Not all of the images have links, but there's a link to the forum at the end of the article.

1 The last time Comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko (67P) made its trip around the Sun, it picked up two hitchhikers. They were the European Space Agency's Rosetta spacecraft and its lander Philae. In November 2021 the comet made its first return visit.

2 Few of us live close to splendid landscapes with dark skies. Happily, Mark Gee, who lives in New Zealand, says “astrophotography ... is one of the most rewarding forms of photography there is . . . it has certainly been one amazing journey of self discovery for me, and I am very humbled to be able to share these images with you.” Here is one of his images, a rugged seascape under a dramatic sky.

3 A cosmic drama, captured by the Hubble Space Telescope, looks like a fiery blue sword has transfixed a giant heart. It's the Herbig-Haro object HH111, 1300 light years away in Orion. A new star is forming there. The “sword” is twin jets of superheated gas from opposite poles of the infant star. Some leftover dust and gas surrounding the star makes up the “heart”.

4 The Atacama Large Millimetre Array (ALMA) is an astronomical telescope made up of an array of 66 giant antennas. Combinations of the antennas are used as an interferometer. This allows ALMA to make precision observations beyond the ability of other telescopes. It's located on the Chajnantor plateau in Chile at an elevation of 5,000 m (16,000 ft). Chajnantor means "place of departure" in the Kunza language of the Atacameño people that lived there and named the plateau.

5 Canadian Brian Ventrudo of “Cosmic Pursuits” had a wonderful experience early in November in Calgary when “the morning radio show announced. . .that a brilliant display of aurora borealis was underway and visible from nearly everywhere in the city." Despite subzero temperatures, he was off with his camera into his backyard. “It was the most spectacular auroral display this far south for the past decade & one of the best I've seen in nearly three decades.”

6 The amazing spiral in the star system LL Pegasi isn't an artist's creation. It's an infrared image taken by the Hubble Space Telescope. No one is certain about its origin, but it's probably due to a binary star system going into its planetary nebula phase, ejecting the outer atmosphere. The glow is likely to be light of nearby stars being reflected.

7 In the Central West Astronomical Society's annual astrophotography competition, this nightscape photo by Ian Inverarity won the Photo Editor's Choice award for its "wonderful balance between the night sky & such an iconic and majestic tree in a unique Australian outback landscape. The balance created with the human lighting up the detail of the age in the trunk and outer branches helps create an extra dimension to the image while also giving scale to the overall scene. A cracking picture."

8 December 4, 2021 produced a total solar eclipse. But to see the eclipse from land, you had to be in Antarctica. Other choices were sailing in the Southern Ocean or flying above it. Oh, and a very select few, i.e., astronauts on the International Space Station, saw the Moon's shadow on the Earth.

Link to Astro Advent forum thread

You Should Also Read:
Rosetta the Comet Chaser
Aurorae - Polar Light Shows
What Is a Nebula

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