Fascinating astronomical combos: It’s an astronomer’s dream to capture several night sky phenomena together in the same picture. Here’s 10 mind-boggling astro-combos photographed by our resident professional astrophotographer.
Spending time outside at night is something we have forgotten. However as it appears, more and more people are progressively regaining interest in enjoying and protecting our night sky. All of this has been made possible by the development of IT, the improvement of astro-imaging and sharing on social media. Astronomers, astrophysicists and astrophotographers are the main people to thank for that. For Adrien Mauduit, our resort manager and professional astrophotographer at the aurora borealis observatory, it’s not only about what makes the cosmos so enjoyable, but also how astrophotographers communicate their passion. According to Mauduit, the best way to put stars in people’s eyes is by creating a ‘wow effect’ when they look at an astrophotograph. That’s the reason why he has been chasing after not only one but several astronomical event to capture in the same frame. Indeed those tend to be extremely rare and you need to spend a lot of time outside taking thousands of pictures. After sorting through thousands of pictures, you come across ‘THE’ one. Here are the ten most impressive astro-combos shot by Adrien during the course of six years of career.
- Noctilucent clouds, aurora and meteor
In this photo taken in Bashaw, central Alberta, Canada in the Summer 2017, a very bright meteor punched through the twilight as an magnetospheric substorm (auroral arc) was in growth. Right ‘below’ the display /actually under it in altitude, some noctilucent clouds were spreading across the twilight arc.
- Milky way and aurora
This is probably the best single picture we have seen to date and it was taken here on Senja island last September by our resort manager. The talented Frank Olsen, the beautiful Amanda Costa (model here) and Adrien were out taking northern light pictures on a lukewarm September night. Right after taking a first test selfie, Frank and Adrien wanted to try a shot from a slightly better location with more reflection and with a different subject. Amanda posed for them in front of that still pool of water allowing the reflection. Adrien actually didn’t really plan it but Amanda happened to be right in the aurora reflection on the Norwegian sea (Ersfjord, Senja) and the reflection was absolutely stunning. The milky way was also unbelievably defined for a single shot. The colors fell in perfectly, the symmetry of this astronomical association, the mirror effect. In short everything to make for a dream shot!
- Milky way, zodiacal lights, red sprites, airglow and lightning
What a combo! In this picture, there are actually up to 5 atmospheric or astronomical events of note. Mauduit took this picture on the Canary island of La Palma in 2016. One lucky night, the milky way and zodiacal lights were shining bright right after the end of the astronomical twilight. On top of that, a nice orange airglow showed itself lower on the horizon. A thunderstorm was also developing and as Adrien was taking several pictures, he succeeded in catching a lucky one with lightning and red sprites (middle right).
- Noctilucent clouds and lightning
Taken in High Level, Alberta, Canada in 2017 during a noctilucent clouds remote sensing campaign, this picture shows a thunderstorm developing some 70km under thin white NLC dendrites.
- Milky way and zodiacal lights
These pillars are called Zodiacal lights. The Zodiacal lights are a natural astronomical phenomenon that occurs either during the transition of astronomical twilight to night or during the transition between night and astronomical dawn. In the northern hemisphere it appears in the west roughly an hour after sunset or in the east about an hour before sunrise. Here it was photographed as a very bright display along with the Fall milky way of La Palma in 2017.
- Milky way, airglow and meteor shower
Composite image taken in the Swiss Alps during the 2018 Perseid meteor shower. The numerous meteors were staked on the backdrop of one picture to show them as a shower. In the background you can see them along nice green airglow and the milky way.
- Noctilucent clouds, crescent moon, Venus and Earthshine
On a calm night of central Alberta, Canada, A nice crescent moon displaying Earthshine was in conjunction with the planet Venus. As the two objects were setting in the colors of twilight, a nice display of noctilucent clouds was already high in the sky.
- Total Lunar eclipse, milky way, Mars and Jupiter
When the moon passes into the Earth’s shadow during a total lunar eclipse, it turns blood red. It also loses much of its brightness to reveal the beauty of the night sky. In August 2018, the great lunar eclipse enabled this shot taken from the Swiss Alps where you can see the eclipsed moon (red dot), Mars (actually hidden by clouds here), Jupiter (bright on the right) and the milky way arch along with the red nebulosity of the North-American nebula.
- Comet, deep-sky objects and meteor
December 2018 offered a nice deep-sky show. Comet P46 Wirtanen appeared in the sky and passed right between the constallations of Pleiades (blue reflection nebulosity on the right) and Hyades (Bull’s head with yellow Aldebaran on the left). As Mauduit was taking a timelapse of the phenomenon, a nice meteor photobombed the right corner of the frame.
- Deep-sky objects and aurora
There is no doubt that aurora is one of mother nature’s most beautiful shows. However as an astrophotographer, if you want to take pictures of the night sky at polar latitudes, you’re going to have to deal with how bright the aurora is. Mauduit had to wait until the aurora was quite dim, which doesn’t happen often. He took this fascinating picture of the red nebulas of the Orion region drowned in green northern lights.
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