You might not have noticed but we love posting astro related imagery here at Sky-Watching. With that in mind we decided to put together our favourite images from throughout the year, as voted for by us
Sky-Watching Image of the Year 2011
50 stacked images helped the dust lane details stand out in my image of Andromeda (click to enlarge) - Credit: Sky-Watching/A.Welbourn
At the risk of sounding like blowing our own trumpet, chosen independently as their favourite blog image from 2011 by both tte-77 and mattelk (with no coercion from me whatsoever!) this was one of the first ever stacked images I captured and processed.
Galaxies are fascinating for their variety and magnitude, so to photograph one so clearly using our own equipment through our own light polluted skies helped my M31 Andromeda image stand out.
Creating images like this was one of the main reasons I bought a telescope and camera in the first place, so astrophotography can be very rewarding when your efforts pay off.
The original post (also featuring the Orion Nebula and The Pleiades) can be viewed here.
Sky-Watching Best Planetary Image 2011
The rings of Saturn shine brightly as the planet eclipses the Sun (click to enlarge) - Credit: Cassini Imaging Team, SSI, JPL, ESA, NASA
As soon as mattelk first posted this image of Saturn from the Cassini spacecraft we knew it would be a contender for the best planetary image of the year.
Taken by Cassini as it drifted in the shadow of the planet Saturn (looking towards the eclipsed sun) the night side of the planet is illuminated by sunlight reflected from its own ring system, and the rings themselves are lit by sunlight scattering off of the particles in the ring system.
The small white dot just top left of the main ring system is us, planet Earth!
Sky-Watching Historic Images of 2011
We followed the last months of NASA’s space shuttle program incredibly closely, so as 2011 saw the end of the iconic spacecraft (with all 3 remaining orbiters retired to museums) it’s only right that we picked a couple of historic shuttle photos for images of particular historic interest.
Docked together 220 miles above the Earth, the penultimate shuttle flight STS-134 Endeavour and the ISS as photographed by ESA Astronaut Paolo Nespoli (Click to enlarge) - Credit: NASA
The image captured above by Paolo Nespoli from a Soyuz capsule returning to Earth were historic, as the first ever images taken from space of a shuttle docked to the ISS. Nothing like waiting for the penultimate mission!
NASA officials said this spacecraft “family portrait” served as a reminder of the contributions the shuttle program made to the construction of the International Space Station. The 100 billion dollar station began assembly in 1998 with the Russian module Zarya, and then a certain orbiter called Endeavour (STS-88) took the first US built section (the Unity Module) into orbit the same year.
The NASA gallery page features several more photographs, take a look here.
Launching into history, the iconic shuttle Atlantis spears skyward beginning the last ever shuttle mission (click to enlarge) - Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls
NASA’s space shuttle Atlantis (STS-135) blasted into orbit on 8th July 2011 on the 135th and final space shuttle mission, launching from Kennedy Space Center (on a 13 day mission delivering supplies to the ISS) with thousands of spectators lining the roads and beaches nearby.
With the shuttle flying no more, we’re eagerly awaiting NASA’s next innovation in launch systems.
It’s been a good year for great images, and we’re now eagerly waiting to see what 2012 will bring.
Different images evoke different responses in different people, but we managed to agree what images should feature, even if I abstained from voting for one of them (for obvious reasons of favouritism)
And on that note all of us at Sky-Watching wish all our visitors, subscribers and Twitter followers a very Happy New Year, may 2012 be great for all of you.
So let’s finish 2011 with a smile, this little image posted through Twitter made me laugh, and from comments made it caused a few chuckles in others too!
Just for Fun
NASA claim plans to send humans back to the Moon haven't been hit by budget cuts... (click to enlarge) - Credit: Sky-Watching/A.Welbourn
Happy New Year!