Comet spews ice, dust, Rosetta photographs


Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko outburst, photo by Rosetta

From the European Space Agency:

11 August 2015

In the approach to perihelion over the past few weeks, Rosetta has been witnessing growing activity from Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko, with one dramatic outburst event proving so powerful that it even pushed away the incoming solar wind. The comet reaches perihelion on Thursday, the moment in its 6.5-year orbit when it is closest to the Sun. In recent months, the increasing solar energy has been warming the comet’s frozen ices, turning them to gas, which pours out into space, dragging dust along with it.

The period around perihelion is scientifically very important, as the intensity of the sunlight increases and parts of the comet previously cast in years of darkness are flooded with sunlight.

Although the comet’s general activity is expected to peak in the weeks following perihelion, much as the hottest days of summer usually come after the longest days, sudden and unpredictable outbursts can occur at any time – as already seen earlier in the mission.

On 29 July, Rosetta observed the most dramatic outburst yet, registered by several of its instruments from their vantage point 186 km from the comet. They imaged the outburst erupting from the nucleus, witnessed a change in the structure and composition of the gaseous coma environment surrounding Rosetta, and detected increased levels of dust impacts.

Perhaps most surprisingly, Rosetta found that the outburst had pushed away the solar wind magnetic field from around the nucleus.

A sequence of images taken by Rosetta’s scientific camera OSIRIS show the sudden onset of a well-defined jet-like feature emerging from the side of the comet’s neck, in the Anuket region. It was first seen in an image taken at 13:24 GMT, but not in an image taken 18 minutes earlier, and has faded significantly in an image captured 18 minutes later. The camera team estimates the material in the jet to be travelling at 10 m/s at least, and perhaps much faster.

“This is the brightest jet we’ve seen so far,” comments Carsten Güttler, OSIRIS team member at the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research in Göttingen, Germany.

“Usually, the jets are quite faint compared to the nucleus and we need to stretch the contrast of the images to make them visible – but this one is brighter than the nucleus.”

Scottish wildlife photography competition


This video from Scotland says about itself:

4 July 2014

This is what you could experience with a visit to the Scottish Seabird Centre.

From Wildlife Extra:

Scottish Seabird Centre launches 2015 photography competition

The Scottish Seabird Centre, visitor attraction, conservation and education charity, has launched its 2015 photography competition.

The categories to enter are: Landscape, Scottish Wildlife, Worldwide Wildlife, Environmental Impact, Creative Visions of Nature and World Flora – under 16s can enter in all categories.

However, as the Scottish Seabird Centre Nature Photography Awards are in their tenth year, to mark this anniversary there are two new categories: Nature’s Foragers and Nature Condensed.

Following the success of last year’s awards, which had over 430 entries, the judges for are Scottish Natural Heritage’s award-winning photographer Lorne Gill, professional freelance photographer Graham Riddell and Scottish Field Editor Richard Bath, and they will be joined by guest judges for the two new categories.

Tom Brock OBE, Chief Executive of the Scottish Seabird Centre, says: “These awards will identify the best photographic talent from all age groups and encourage people to study, appreciate and share the wonders of the natural world in a sustainable way.

“Our Nature Photography Awards have grown significantly over the last ten years, and are now firmly established as a high quality and prestigious annual photography competition.

“The new categories make this year’s competition even more exciting. I would encourage amateur photographers and film fans worldwide to take a chance and submit their best images and short films.”

For the first of the new categories, and to celebrate Scotland’s Year of Food & Drink, the Centre has introduced the category Nature’s Foragers where entrants are invited to consider our natural larder and how different species engage with it.

The challenge will be to compose an image that can say something about the diversity of natural provisions available or the canny way some wildlife find their lunch.

The guest judge for this category will be Hebridean author Fiona Bird who has written Kids’ Kitchen (Barefoot Books, 2009); The Forager’s Kitchen (Cico Books, 2013) and Seaweed in the Kitchen (Prospect Books, 2015).

Manuela Calchini, VisitScotland Regional Partnerships Director, says: “The Year of Food and Drink is all about celebrating our outstanding culinary delights and unique dining experience.

“It’s fantastic to hear that the Scottish Seabird Centre has incorporated this message into their 2015 photography competition.

“Food and drink is such an integral part of our lives so I’m sure there will be plenty of opportunity for entrants to get snap happy and capture that prize-winning picture.”

Fiona Bird adds: “I am delighted to be invited to judge the foraging category. We should all relish the opportunity to explore and taste Scotland’s natural larder.

“Most foragers eat locally and every forager eats seasonally; they are, of course, mindful that if they pick all of the spring blossom there won’t be autumn berries, and the birds and the bees will lose out.”

For the second new category, budding film makers have the opportunity to enter for the first time in the Nature Condensed category.

Entrants in this category will create a maximum of one minute’s footage, focusing on any of the themes outlined in the photographic categories.

This new category will also have a guest judge, Laura Miller, News Anchor from STV Edinburgh.

Laura says: “‘I am delighted to be involved in the Scottish Seabird Centre Nature Photography Awards 2015 in this their tenth anniversary year.

“The competition is the perfect platform for local amateur photographers, young and old, and it showcases a wealth of talent.

“I feel privileged to be judging the inaugural ‘short film’ category and can’t wait to see this year’s entries.’’

The deadline for entries is Sunday 18 October.

Judges will meet to decide on a shortlist in each category. The shortlist will then be on display from 20 November in the Seabird Centre and online for the public to cast their votes, until Sunday 21 February 2016.

In each category there will be a winner selected by the judges as well as a winner selected by the voting public. Winning photographers have the opportunity to secure a whole host of prizes, which will be unveiled soon at http://www.seabird.org.

To enter the Nature Photography Awards visit www.seabird.org.

Birds, flowers and dragonflies


Wild carrot flowers, 9 August 2015

On 9 August 2015, again to the botanical garden. Where in the part of the garden which is a reconstruction of its early seventeenth century past, these flowers grow: wild carrot.

Before we had arrived there, two young herring gulls on a street near a canal. Then, two collared doves. And a great crested grebe couple swimming and diving in the canal.

Small red-eyed damselflies flying just over the garden pond, sometimes resting on water-lily leaves. Males and females in tandem; in two cases, on water plants; females with the lower parts of their bodies underwater, depositing eggs on the plants.

Wild carrot flowers, on 9 August 2015

Then, the part of the garden near the exit, with the wild carrot flowers.

Black-tailed skimmer dragonfly female, 9 August 2015

A female black-tailed skimmer dragonfly not far away.

Black-tailed skimmer dragonfly female, on 9 August 2015

See the moon circling Earth


Moon circling Earth

From daily The Independent in Britain today about this:

This beautiful Nasa gif is truly mesmerising

by Matthew Champion

It looks like something from a 1980s BBC ident, but this is a series of captivating images taken of the moon crossing the Earth, from a million miles away.

The pictures were taken by the appropriately named Earth Polychromatic Imaging Camera (Epic), which is somewhere between the Sun and the Earth on Nasa’s Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR).

They were taken last month and show the dark side of the moon that is never visible from Earth, and was not observed by humans until 1959.

Adam Szabo, DSCOVR project scientist at Nasa’s Goddard Space Flight Centre in Greenbelt, Maryland, said:

It is surprising how much brighter Earth is than the moon. Our planet is a truly brilliant object in dark space compared to the lunar surface.

One final thought, Epic has a four-megapixel camera – the iPhone‘s camera is eight-megapixel.

Flowers, dragonflies and birds


Great crested grebe and chicks, 2 August 2015

On 2 August 2015, to De Wilck nature reserve. Among the birds there was this adult great crested grebe, swimming with its two youngsters in a ditch.

Before entering the reserve, there already was a common tern, and barn swallows, flying around. Grass rush flowers.

In De Wilck, lady’s thumb flowering along the footpath.

Frogbit, 2 August 2015

Frogbit flowers in the ditch water.

Male and a female blue-tailed damselflies in a tandem.

At a small lake, great cormorants, a mallard and a tufted duck on a small island. A common sandpiper near the western bank.

Arrowhead, 2 August 2015

Arrowhead flowers and leaves protruding from ditch water.

A male emperor dragonfly flying over the ditch.

Small tortoiseshell on bittersweet flower, 2 August 2015

A small tortoiseshell butterfly on a bittersweet flower.

A great egret.

Mute swans with cygnets, 2 August 2015

A mute swan couple with seven cygnets.

A northern lapwing flies.

Long-headed poppy, 2 August 2015

Long-headed poppy flowers along the footpath.

A male black-tailed skimmer dragonfly just above the water. Flying lower and faster than the emperor dragonfly.

Two stock doves flying.

A red admiral butterfly.

In a meadow, five Canada geese. And two barnacle geese.

Edible frog sound.

A grey heron flying.

Two hares near a fence. We go back.

A kestrel hovering.

Common linnet youngsters, 2 August 2015

Scores of common linnets. The ones on the photo are juveniles.

We continue to the Spookverlaat hide, not far away from De Wilck.

A white stork standing on its nest.

A blackbird sings.

Great cormorants, 2 August 2015

On the islet near the hide: great cormorants, mallards, a moorhen.

In the water, a tufted duck.

Reed warbler, 2 August 2015

And in the reedbeds, this reed warbler.

Giant stick insects and Victoria amazonica flower


Victoria amazonica bud, 1 August 2015

On 1 August 2015, after the earlier flowers and bees of the botanical garden then, to the Victoria amazonica hothouse. This giant water lily species did not have a flower yet, but it did have a bud, as this photo shows.

Giant prickly stick insect, adult, 1 August 2015

Then, the next hothouse. On a smallish Eucalyptus tree in a pot in there, an adult giant prickly stick insect from Australia.

Giant prickly stick insect, juvenile, 1 August 2015

But there were not only adults. This species reproduces here, so there were young ones on that tree as well, like this one.

Giant prickly stick insect, small juvenile, 1 August 2015

This photo shows the smallest one of the new generation of giant prickly stick insects, while feeding.

Botanical garden flowers and bees


Flat sea holly, 1 August 2015

On 1 August 2015, to the botanical garden. First, the part closest to the entrance: a reconstruction of the garden as it was in the early seventeenth century, the time of botanist Clusius, founder of the garden. In one patch, flat sea holly flowers.

Honeybees on flat sea holly flower, 1 August 2015

These flowers attract bees and hoverflies.

Honeybees still on flat sea holly flower, 1 August 2015

So do Centaurea alpina flowers next to it. They attract both male and female red-tailed bumblebees.

Rosebay willowherb, 1 August 2015

Also in the same patch: rosebay willowherb.

The rosebay willowherb flowers attract red-tailed bumblebees; and also large earth bumblebees.

Brown knapweed with red-tailed bumblebee female, 1 August 2015

Finally, in this Clusius garden patch: the purple flowers of brown knapweed, with also their red-tailed bumblebees.

Further in the botanical garden, near the hothouse, a peacock butterfly on butterfly-bush flowers. Too far away for a macro lens.

Bladder campion, 1 August 2015

Bladder campion flowers near the old astronomical observatory.

Artichoke flower with honeybee, 1 August 2015

Then, big artichoke flowers. They attract honeybees. And red-tailed bumblebees; including young queens, recently flown away from the nest. They are about twice the size of worker females and males.

Behind the beehive of the botanical garden, a young dunnock on the path.

Saw-wort flower with honeybee, 1 August 2015

Saw-wort flowers attract honeybees.

Saw-wort flower with honeybees, 1 August 2015

In the pond, carp swimming. A small red-eyed damselfly couple in tandem.

Stay tuned, as next we went to the Victoria amazonica hothouse.