Category Archives: Photography

Winners (and runners up) in the 2019 Audubon Photography Awards.

From top: a camouflaged owl by Shari McCollough; two Great Blue Herons by Melissa Rowell; Kevin Ebi’s shot of a Bald eagle and a fox battling for possession of a rabbit (see how it all turned out here) and the Grand Prize Winner – a red-winged blackbird ‘blowing smoke rings’ by Katherine Swoboda, who explains:

I visit this park near my home to photograph blackbirds on cold mornings, often aiming to capture the “smoke rings” that form from their breath as they sing out. On this occasion, I arrived early on a frigid day and heard the cry of the blackbirds all around the boardwalk. This particular bird was very vociferous, singing long and hard. I looked to set it against the dark background of the forest, shooting to the east as the sun rose over the trees, backlighting the vapour.

In fairness…


It’s very difficult to tell what’s going on at the centre of our galaxy, what with interstellar dust blocking the view of conventional telescopes. In other bands of light however, such as radio, it’s a pretty lively place. To wit:

The featured picture shows the inaugural image of the MeerKAT array of 64 radio dishes just completed in South Africa. Spanning four times the angular size of the Moon (2 degrees), the image is impressively vast, deep, and detailed. Many known sources are shown in clear detail, including many with a prefix of Sgr, since the Galactic Center is in the direction of the constellation Sagittarius. In our Galaxy’s Center lies Sgr A, found here just to the right of the image center, which houses the Milky Way’s central supermassive black hole. Other sources in the image are not as well understood, including the Arc, just to the left of Sgr A, and numerous filamentary threads. Goals for MeerKAT include searching for radio emission from neutral hydrogen emitted in a much younger universe and brief but distant radio flashes.

(Image: MeerKATSARAO)


An image of the magnetic field at the centre of the Milky Way taken using a specialised HAWC+ camera by NASA’s 747 mounted observatory SOFIA. To wit:

HAWC+ maps magnetism by observing polarized infrared light emitted by elongated dust grains rotating in alignment with the local magnetic field.

Now at our Milky Way’s center is a supermassive black hole with a hobby of absorbing gas from stars it has recently destroyed. Our galaxy’s black hole, though, is relatively quiet compared to the absorption rate of the central black holes in active galaxies.

The featured image gives a clue as to why — a surrounding magnetic field may either channel gas into the black hole — which lights up its exterior, or forces gas into an accretion-disk holding pattern, causing it to be less active — at least temporarily.

Inspection of the featured image — appearing perhaps like a surreal mashup of impasto art and gravitational astrophysics — brings out this telling clue by detailing the magnetic field in and around a dusty ring surrounding Sagittarius A*, the black hole in our Milky Way’s center.

(Image: NASASOFIAHubble)


‘Inception’-style visions of Russian cities by Vladimir-based production studio Lestnica – each one anchored by a single architectural feature around which the surrounding cityscape fans outward and upward in melon-twisting fashion.

A software algorithm was applied to cameras in semi-automatic mode to produce thousands of test images from which dozens of hours of work yielded the final composites.

More here.