tisdag 28 december 2010

Moon-Dogs

"Sun dogs" is a common atmospheric phenomenon, where a coloured patch of light can be seen to the left and/or to the right of the sun and often also as a ring, or halo, around the sun. Less known and much more rare are moon dogs, which are caused by the refraction of moon-light by ice crystals in cirrostratus clouds. They can only be seen when the moon is bright and when the conditions for forming are right. Tonight a beautiful Moon Halo with Moon Dogs could be seen over Kvaløya in the early morning hours. In the lower image, the rising Venus can also be seen.
Moon Halo with Moon-dogs



Moon Halo with Moon Dogs and the planet Venus rising to the left in the image

Killer Whales and Humpback Whales

Now, during late autumn and winter, large amounts of Norwegian spring spawning herring/sill/sild have migrated towards the coast of Northern Norway, and with the herring killer whales/späckhuggare/spekkhogger and humpback whales/knölval/knølhval have arrived and are now feasting on herring along the coast. As a marine biologist, I went south (to the area around Andøya in the county Nordland where several sightings had been made), to collect photo-ID pictures of the whales to be able to identify the individuals and learn more about their ecology. Already in the morning on the first day the characteristic blows of humpbacks could be seen far out in the fjord. With the help of my good friend and nature photographer Espen Bergersen and a local fisherman (thank you so much for your help Jann!), we went out at sea and found a large flock of humpback whales feeding together with killer whales in the area outside Dverberg. From land, a minke whale/vikval/vågehval was also observed. The most spectacular observations have been made from land since the whales use the land to trap the herring and are therefore feeding very close to land, so this is an exceptional opportunity to go whale watching from land, and thus, not disturb these otherwise vulnerable animals. If operators and private persons decide to go out at sea, remember to follow the guidelines for how to approach and behave around whales. http://www.ocean-sounds.com/eng/contact/ueber/wwf_oceansounds_hvalsafari-retningslinjer_2008_small/
Here are some pictures from a fantastic day in Andfjorden in mid-winter.

Two humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) together

Diving Humpback Whale


A large humpback approaching the boat
Killer Whales (Orcinus orca) in Andfjorden
Humpback Whale (Megaptera novaeangliae)

måndag 27 december 2010

Meteors !

Despite being in the middle of two major meteor showers (the Geminids that peaked in mid-December, and the Quadrantids that will peak on Jan 4) several bright meteors have been seen lately.

Below, two of the brighter meteors that I have been able to capture can be seen. Both pictures were taken from Andøya in Northern Norway.



Meteor over Andfjorden, Norway


Meteor as seen from Kvalnes, Northern Norway

torsdag 23 december 2010

Total Lunar Eclipse

Early in the morning, 21st of December, I went out to Grøtfjord on Kvaløya to try and see the total lunar eclipse.

The weather looked good to start with, but already on the way out to the observing spot before the eclipse, thin clouds drifted in and I took a stop to photograph a dramatic lunar halo with the characteristic mountain "Store Blåmann" in the foreground.

More clouds drifted in and the first half of the eclipse was impossible to observe, but every now and then, the Moon could be glimpsed through the thin clouds and allowed me to get a few pictures of the event. A beautiful coppery-red hue could be seen during mid-eclipse and during the last part of the eclipse when the Moon dissappeared behind the mountains in the west.



The last stage of the eclipse


Total Lunar Eclipse, 21 December 2010



Watching the lunar eclipse from Grøtfjord


Lunar halo above the mountain "Store Blåmann"


Early in the morning, the Full Moon gave the landscape an eerie look

måndag 20 december 2010

The Blue Hour

The Polar Night period, when the sun doesn`t rise above the horizon, is my favourite time of the year, and today I tried to capture the special light that is known as "The Blue Hour" here in Northern Norway.

The city of Tromsø and the mountains on the mainland can be seen in the background.





söndag 19 december 2010

Total Lunar Eclipse - 21 December 2010

Total Lunar Eclipse - Alert:
Tomorrow (December 21) 2010 a total lunar eclipse will be visible here from Northern Norway.
The eclipse will happen early in the morning (for detailes - click on the link on the headline).
Last time a lunar eclipse could be seen here was on New Year`s Eve 2009/2010, but then only 8 % of the Moon was covered by the Earth (see the image sequence below), but this time 100% of the Moon will be covered by the earth`s shadow and the Moon will likely turn deep red due to the refraction of sunlight by the Earth`s atmosphere.
A good photo-opportunity if weather allows!
The last lunar eclipse visible from Norway was only a partial eclipse of 8% - 31 December 2009

fredag 17 december 2010

Lenticular Clouds

Today very special lenticular clouds/linseskyer appeared over Northern Norway

When strong wind blows over a mountain, large-scale "standing waves"/fjällvågor/fjellbølger may form on the downwind side - a phenomenon that may be problematic for airplanes since it creates a lot of turbulence.

If the temperature of the "standing wave" drops to the dew point, moisture in the air may condensate to form these spectacular clouds, called lenticular clouds, and today (17 December) these clouds, with the scientific name Altocumulus lenticularis (linsmoln/linseskyer) could be seen over large parts of the county Troms and Finnmark.









torsdag 16 december 2010

Auroras - Popular Science Article by Fredrik Broms

As a northern lights photographer many people write to me and ask questions about northern lights. The three most frequently asked questions are:

1) What are northern lights?
2) Where and when can I see northern lights? and
3) How do I take pictures of northern lights?

Few things make me more happy than being able to show people their first northern lights, and still after many years and many nights with auroras I still get that same feeling every time, like it`s the first time I see them.

To answer some of these questions to a broader public, I have written a 4 pages popular science article for the leading Swedish Astronomy Magazine "Populär Astronomi" which will be available in the stores in December (nr 4, 2010)

With this article I hope to answer some of the questions about auroras and to give answers on how to maximize the chances of seeing and taking pictures of northern lights, no matter if you live around the Arctic circle or not.

Below are some examples of images that I have used to illustrate the text in the article:



A clear northern horizon and a simple composition is often to prefer

Imaging in front of a water surface can make even very faint auroras look impressive

A corona is one of the most spectacular kind of structures.
Cloudy weather, like here, doesn`t always have to be a bad thing,
and can add a dramatic effect to the image.



Like with most photography, an interesting composition makes the image more interesting



Including a fore-ground makes most images of auroras much more interesting and alive

måndag 13 december 2010

Meteor Shower

One of the best meteor showers of the year - the Geminids - are here again!

The peak in activity will be during the night between the 13th and the 14th of December, but the noghts before and after is usually also good. During the peak in activity as much as ca 100 meteors/hour can be seen from a dark locality (and last year, there were even more than that - I counted maximum 180/hour, and the brightest fireball even made the camera vibrate (which was naturally pointing in the wrong direction). It was the brighest meteor I have ever seen and the entire landscape was lit up as strong as during a full moon !

14 December 2010:

Cloudy weather during the entire night 13/14 Dec made all observations impossible, but in the evening on the 14th of Dec I managed to capture a relatively bright meteor with the camera.

A Geminid meteor, 14 December 2010

6 December 2010:

As early as the night between December 6/7 a bright geminid could be seen over Kvaløya:



An early Geminid meteor

söndag 5 december 2010

Astrophotographer of the Year

Today the local astronomy club "Tromsø Astronomi Forening" (TRAF) arranged an "Astronomy Day" at Tromsø University Museum and it was nice to see so many people coming to the event.

During the evening, the results from the local Astronomy Photographer of the Year - competition was announced, and I was happy and honoured to find my image "1 hour in the forest" awarded first place. The exposure time? That`s right, 60 minutes. This inspires me to spend many more nights out there in the cold under the night sky - many thanks to the organisers!

All the awarded pictures can be seen in the local newspaper: http://www.itromso.no/bilder/article411247.ece?imageIndex=1#pageTop or in the next number of the Norwegian Astronomy Magazine "Astronomi"


The winning image "1 hour in the forest"