image noise, photographed / not photographed by soho, 14th june 2015.

35 frames, photographed over 7.5 hours, with the subject of the images removed as much as possible; some traces of the background stars remain, however. near centre, elnath (beta tauri) is somewhat visible as a crescent. most of the noise is from charged particles hitting the image detector.

image credit: nasa/soho. animation: ageofdestruction.


berlin: Sun, stars, and Mercury, photographed by SOHO, 15th June 2014.

1 photo per hour for 24 hours. Mercury is between Earth and the Sun.

“Alnath” is derived from the Arabic النطح (“the butting”, as of the bull, Taurus), also rendered Elnath or El Nath. Since it is the second brightest star in Taurus, it is also known as Beta Tauri (or β Tau). Before the modern borders of the constellations were defined, Alnath was also sometimes considered to be shared with the neighboring constellation of Auriga, earning it yet another designation; Gamma Aurigae (γ Aur).

NGC 1746 is the New General Catalogue number for the loose group of stars seen at far right. At the time of their designation in 1863, the stars were thought to be an open cluster - gravitationally bound and probably sharing an origin. More recent studies show that they are not related, and only appear as a group from Earth’s perspective.

Image credit: NASA/ESA/GSFC. Animation: AgeOfDestruction.


So here’s the deal: I need to take these pictures with what I’ve got: a three-year-old iPhone 4 camera.

Anyways the top image is Comet Lovejoy. When you look at it with an 8" telescope or smaller (you can see it with binoculars) it just looks like a really bright, green star (the comet’s green due to a presence of diatomic carbon).

When I look with the naked eye I couldn’t really make anything out. It’s bright in the telescope though. If you want to look for Lovejoy yourself it’s currently in the vicinity of the constellation Auriga, a bit South of the star Beta Tauri/Elnath.

Since the first picture is a bit shoddy though I took a photograph of Jupiter and three of its moons for you. I’m not sure which was behind Jupiter but it looks to be either Europa or Io (* i-am-the-last-timelord, thanks! That’s a cool program - Callisto is the hidden moon, the other three are visible).

The phone’s camera doesn’t do Jupiter justice either… I can plainly see the bands of wind going across the outer layers of the planet. Hopefully one day I’ll be able to provide a decent image for you guys

Downtown Auriga

Rich in star clusters and nebulae, the ancient constellation of Auriga, the Charioteer, rides high in northern winter night skies. Spanning nearly 24 full moons (12 degrees) on the sky, this deep telescopic mosaic view recorded in January shows off some of Auriga’s most popular sights for cosmic tourists. The crowded field sweeps along the plane of our Milky Way galaxy in the direction opposite the galactic center. Need directions? Near the bottom of the frame, at the Charioteer’s boundary with Taurus the Bull, the bright bluish star Elnath is known as both Beta Tauri and Gamma Aurigae. On the far left and almost 300 light-years away, the busy, looping filaments of supernova remnant Simeis 147 cover about 150 light-years. Look toward the right to find emission nebula IC 410, significantly more distant, some 12,000 light-years away. Star forming IC 410 is famous for its embedded young star cluster, NGC 1893, and tadpole-shaped clouds of dust and gas. The Flaming Star Nebula, IC 405, is just a little farther along. Its red, convoluted clouds of glowing hydrogen gas are energized by hot O-type star AE Aurigae. Two of our galaxy’s open star clusters, Charles Messier's M36 and M38 line up in the starfield above, familiar to many binocular-equipped skygazers.

Image credit & copyright: Rogelio Bernal Andreo (Deep Sky Colors)