Readers’ wildlife photos

Today we’re also including astronomy (as we sometimes do): some nice eclipse pictures and one of Saturn. And we’ll have a token animal. First, some lovely eclipse photos taken by reader Don:

I’m late to the party submitting these, but I haven’t had a lot of time to process them. The first shows the eclipse not quite half way between first and second contact, along with the nice string of sunspots near the center.  A new group of sunspots appeared the morning of the eclipse, but they are obscured by the moon.

The second two show various views of totality including solar prominences and a bit of the corona.  The Bailey’s Beads are quite spectacular, and are caused by the sun peeking through the valleys between mountains on the edge of the moon.

JAC:  “Bailey’s Beads,” whose cause was discovered by astronomer Francis Bailey in 1836, are the spots of sunlight shining through lower bits of the Moon’s topography.

The final image is a very high dynamic range view that shows the dimmest details on the surface of the moon itself (caused by earthshine), as well as the detail in the solar corona itself. [JAC: As with all photos, click to enlarge.]

I’ll put this up because it’s an amazing compilation video: it shows (repeatedly) the shadow of the solar eclipse crossing America. It’s from NASA, which gives this information:

From a million miles out in space, NASA’s Earth Polychromatic Imaging Camera (EPIC) captured 12 natural color images of the moon’s shadow crossing over North America on Aug. 21, 2017. EPIC is aboard NOAA’s Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR), where it photographs the full sunlit side of Earth every day, giving it a unique view of total solar eclipses.

Tim Anderson from Australia sent both an astronomy and a wildlife photo:

This is an image of Saturn taken on 23 August using a 9.25″ Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope and an Atik colour camera. The data are captured as a video file, then processed to extract the clearest still images, then combined to increase contrast. Somewhere in there is Cassini preparing for its final descent into the planet’s atmosphere.

And here’s your Bird of the Day, also from Tim:

This is a Noisy Friarbird (Philemon corniculatus), a common and voluble bird found in gardens across Australia. It is a member of the Franciscan Order of Grey Friars, but is evidently not bound by a vow of silence.

Here’s a photo of its head taken from Wikipedia. Though it has a bald pate, it’s not like a vulture, for it feeds on insects, fruit, and nectar:

Here’s a video of one, and then a video that shows why they’re called “noisy”:



  1. Posted August 24, 2017 at 8:06 am | Permalink

    The EPIC video is best viewed at .25 speed, IMO.

    • Diane G.
      Posted August 24, 2017 at 6:21 pm | Permalink

      Thanks for the suggestion.

      It also shows how lucky we were that most of the relevant portion of the continent was cloud-free yesterday.

  2. Posted August 24, 2017 at 8:27 am | Permalink

    Excellent! Those are first rate pictures of the eclipse.

    Odd that the friar bird should have a naked head. No idea why that would be.

  3. rickflick
    Posted August 24, 2017 at 10:14 am | Permalink

    The friarbird is close to one of the ugliest birds ever(vultures are number one) – but lovable just the same.

  4. KD33
    Posted August 24, 2017 at 12:59 pm | Permalink

    Actually, the first of the pair of the “Bailey’s Beads” pics doesn’t show the Beads, but something else: prominences extending from the suns’s surface, located at about 11:30 and 1 on the edge. These are not part of the corona, but are rather the “flares” you’ll see extending from the sun’s surface in normal, non-eclipse images of the sun. They are slightly orange in color, which you can barely see here. (A friend got a spectacular image with them as well.) It’s very unusual to see this in an eclipse photo.

  5. Posted August 24, 2017 at 1:47 pm | Permalink

    I watched the eclipse from an open field out in the country, virtually on the center line, with no clouds in the way. The impression it made on me was paradoxical: It seemed eerily unnatural, yet it was undeniably as natural as anything could be.

  6. gravelinspector-Aidan
    Posted August 24, 2017 at 2:09 pm | Permalink

    I was trying to find some lunar limb data to try to identify the valleys picked out by Bailey’s Beads, but realised we don’t have location data, which could make a fair difference over where the limb dips are.
    However, I did come across one snippet for the Antipodeans : on 18 Sept, the Moon occults the crescent Venus. Which, weather permitting, should be thoroughly naked-eye visible.
    A fortnight later, the Kiwis get a shot at Neptune being occulted (bloody ecliptic!), but you’ll need fair instrumentation to see that one.

    • Diane G.
      Posted August 24, 2017 at 6:30 pm | Permalink

      I’ve seen Venus eclipsed before, but IME it was hard to tell without the use of binoculars. I’d suggest using them anyway for the best view.

      • gravelinspector-Aidan
        Posted August 24, 2017 at 7:09 pm | Permalink

        Hmm, could be. I note the disappearance/ reappearance times are for several hours around 00 UT (Antipodes are large countries), which would b early to mid-morning local time.
        I remember, in my early teen years, spending several hours with Dad, setting up the scope, lashing together cameras, and learning that astrophotography on film isn’t so easy, after noticing by eye that Aldebaran was looking close to being occulted. In the end it missed, but it was a fun evening in garden and darkroom. (Good practice for weddings too, “rushing” the negs.)
        A Venus occultation would, likely, be closer to the Sun, reducing the contrast. But still worth a try if you’re tired of marsupial-bothering.

  7. claudia baker
    Posted August 24, 2017 at 2:30 pm | Permalink

    Tim – the picture of Saturn is spectacular! I almost have goose bumps looking at the picture – let alone looking through a telescope.

  8. Diane G.
    Posted August 24, 2017 at 6:42 pm | Permalink

    What a wonderful set of shots today.

    Don, those are some of the best eclipse pics I’ve seen! Kudos! This is also the first HDR photo of it I’ve seen–how fascinating! It hadn’t occurred to me to look for earthshine during an eclipse, but of course it makes sense once you think about it. 🙂

    Tim, great shot of Saturn; esp. thought-provoking in light of your note about the Cassini probe.

    The Australian avifauna is (are?) quickly becoming my latest ornithological obsession. Thanks for the intro to Noisy Friarbirds.

    (Lame joke notwithstanding…Just kidding! You did make me smile. 😀 )

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