Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Icelandic Dreams

Photographer Stephane Vetter named this photo "A Starry Night Of Iceland." It's a combination of 6 exposures that captures two auroral celestial "rings", reflecting off of the lake Jökulsárlón.

The Milky Way galaxy, the Pleiades open clusters of stars and the Andromeda galaxy are all visible in the background.

This photo won a prize for landscape astro-photography at the recent 2011 Earth and Sky Photo Contest.


"The Northern Lights are formed when particles thrown out of the sun into deep space meet with Earth's magnetic shield and create a circle around the magnetic North Pole when they interact with the upper layers of the atmosphere.

Nasa scientists recently predicted they will shine at the brighest levels seen for 50years in 2012.

The event will be caused by the Solar Maximum - a period when the sun's magnetic field on the solar equator rotates at a slightly faster pace than at the solar poles.

The solar cycle takes an average of around 11 years to go from one solar maximum to the next - varying between 9 to 14 years for any given solar cycle.

The last Solar Maximum was in 2000 and experts have predicted that the next one in 2012 will be the greatest since 1958, where the aurora stunned the people of Mexico by making an appearance on three occasions.

In 2012 scientists have stated that the Northern Lights should at least be visible as far south as Rome."

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