Earth Science Pic of the Day for Mar. 7 – Tiny World in a Fallen Drop

Tiny World in a Fallen Drop

March 07, 2012

A tiny world in a fallen drop

Photographer: Thalia Traianou; Thalia’s Web site
Summary Author: Thalia Traianou; Jim Foster

This photo shows a pearl-like drop of water just breaking its bond with an ice stalactite (icicle). It was taken in the city of Florina, Greece in late December. Since the liquid drop behaves as would a simple lens, the refracted image of the tree branches and fence is inverted when viewed through the drop. The drop’s spherical shape results because surface tension minimizes its surface area. Thanks to Paul Gaintatzis for help with the image processing.

Photo details: Camera Maker: Canon; Camera Model: Canon EOS 500D; Focal Length: 40mm; Aperture: f/5.6; Exposure Time: 0.0003 s (1/4000); ISO equiv: 400; Exposure Bias: none; Metering Mode: Spot; Exposure: Manual; Exposure Mode: Manual; White Balance: Auto; Flash Fired: No (enforced); Orientation: Normal; Color Space: sRGB; Software: Adobe Photoshop CS5 Windows.

Earth Science Pic of the Day for December 8th

Searles Lake Pink Halite

December 08, 2011

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Photographer: Nel Graham
Summary Author: Nel Graham; Jim Foster

This unique pink halite was collected in brine pools at Searles Lake in Trona, California. The halite is colored by millions of halobacteria that survive inside salt crust and by algae (greenish crystals) that live in the extremely saline waters of the lake. Searles Lake is the remains of a large lake that was formerly fed by the Owens River in rainier times. Since it’s now an endorheic lake (closed drainage system), its water is considerably saltier than lakes fed by freshwater rivers — more than 5 times the salinity of sea water.

Every year on the second weekend in October the company that owns and mines the area for evaporite minerals opens it up for public collecting. This event is well known locally by rock hounds in Southern California and is always well attended. Photo taken on October 9, 2011.

Photo details: Camera Maker: Panasonic; Camera Model: DMC-TZ4; Focal Length: 5.0mm (35mm equivalent: 39mm); Aperture: f/8.0; Exposure Time: 0.0031 s (1/320); ISO equiv: 100; Exposure Bias: none; Metering Mode: Matrix; Exposure: program (Auto); White Balance: Auto; Flash Fired: No (enforced); Orientation: Normal; Color Space: sRGB; Software: Ver.1.0.

Earth Science Pic for Thursday, October 20th

Fog and Redwoods

October 20, 2011

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Photographer: Hugh S. Stickney
Summary Author: Hugh S. Stickney; Jim Foster
The photo above showing sunny hillsides and valleys choked with fog was snapped in Sibley Volcanic Regional Preserve, California. This view looks down into the redwoods and bay laurels (Laurus nobilis) in the direction of the town of Canyon. Redwood Park is in the distance. Typically, the biggest and oldest redwood trees (Sequoia sempervirens) are found in deep valleys and ravines. Here, in addition to the cyclonic storms of fall and winter, fog drip and condensation is a regular occurrence. Trees above the fog layer, approximately 2,300 ft (700 m), are deprived of this source of moisture and are somewhat stunted in comparison. Photo taken on January 17, 2011

Earth Science Photo of the Day for Sept. 27th

Cloud Fingers Over Tracy, California

September 27, 2011

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Photographer: Isolde Irene
Summary Author: Isolde Irene; Jim Foster
On the photo above, finger-like altocumulus clouds are seen stretching across an azure blue sky. These billow clouds (undulatus) formed in atmospheric waves. They’re oriented more or less perpendicular to the wind direction. Slots between the clouds appear where the wave dips (trough). The air temperature in the wave crest (where the wave climbs) is slightly cooler than in the trough, so atmospheric water vapor more readily condenses here. Cloud droplets evaporate; however, where the wave moves the cloud into the trough. Photo taken in the late afternoon of July 31, 2011, from Tracy, California.

Photo details: Olympus E-5 camera; f/11; 1/1000 sec. exposure; ISO 200; 14 mm focal length.

Earth Science Pic for Sept. 19th – Portjengrat


September 19, 2011

Photographer: Zoltan Nemeth
Summary Authors: Zoltan Nemeth; Stu Witmer

Recently my friends and I climbed the Weissmies massif (13,198 ft or 4,023 m) in southern Switzerland. We began our climb early in the morning, and by the time the Sun rose we had reached an altitude of 9,495 ft (2,894 m) and the climber’s base at the Almageller hut. The clouds parted and the brilliant Sun filled the landscape dominated by the neighboring Portjengrat peak (11,995 ft or 3,656 m) shown above, which stands on the border between Switzerland and Italy where it’s known as Pizzo d’Andolla. These peaks are part of the Pennine Alps, relatively new mountains that were created during the last 30 million years (Oligocene and Miocene epochs) by the tectonic collision of Africa against Eurasia. Photo taken July 7, 2011.

Photo details: Camera Model: Panasonic DMC-TZ6; Focal Length: 5mm; Aperture: f4.5/5; Exposure Time: 1/500s; ISO equiv: 80; Exposure Bias: none; Metering Mode: Matrix; Exposure: program (Auto); White Balance: Auto; Light Source: Unknown; Flash Fired: No; Color Space: sRGB.

Earth Science Pic of the Day for Sept. 18th – Spanish Moss

Spanish Moss

September 18, 2011

Spanish moss
: Michelle J. Williams
Summary Authors: Michelle J. Williams; Stu Witmer

Spanish moss (Tillandsia usneoides) is neither Spanish nor a true moss. It’s actually a member of the pineapple family, found in southern North America, the West Indies, and Central and South America. It often hangs in large, beard-like, silvery-gray masses from trees and other plants and even on utility poles, but it’s not parasitic nor structurally intertwined with its host. An air-feeding plant or epiphyte, it takes in carbon dioxide and rainwater or dew for photosynthesis through tiny, hairy scales that cover its slender leaves and long, delicate stems. It absorbs nutrients from dust and solvents in rainwater, or from decaying organic matter around its aerial roots. Spanish moss was used by Henry Ford to fill the upholstery in his Model T’s. Allegedly, the “Spanish” in the name got started because early French settlers in Louisiana thought the moss looked like the beards of the earlier Spanish explorers. Photo taken near Monroe, Louisiana on May 5, 2011.

Photo details: Camera Maker: OLYMPUS IMAGING CORP.; Camera Model: SP600UZ; Focal Length: 16mm (35mm equivalent: 89mm); Aperture: f/4.5; Exposure Time: 0.017 s (1/60); ISO equiv: 100; Exposure Bias: none; Metering Mode: Matrix; Exposure: program (Auto); White Balance: Auto; Flash Fired: No (enforced);
Orientation: Normal; Color Space: sRGB.

Earth Science Pic for September 14th

West Riverside, Montana Wildfire

September 14, 2011

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: Josh Birnbaum; International Year of the Forests Photography Fellow
Summary Author: Josh Birnbaum; Jim Foster

The photo above shows a view of a wildfire that’s scarred more than 3,000 acres near West Riverside, Montana. It began on August 21, 2011, perhaps as a result of a lightning strike, but the exact cause is yet to be determined. More than 500 fire personnel worked to extinguishing it — finally did so in the last days of August. As with most all mountain fires, its suppression was a challenge because of the rough, steep terrain and gusty winds. Since the Northern Rockies and Pacific Northwest areas of the U.S. have been rather wet and cool this summer, the focus of this season’s wildfires is likely to be in the tinder dry southern Great Plains. Below is a ground view of the fire in late August.


Photo details
: Top – Camera Maker: Canon; Camera Model: Canon EOS 5D Mark II; Focal Length: 135mm; Aperture: f/8.0; Exposure Time: 0.0016 s (1/640); ISO equiv: 100; Exposure Bias: -0.67 EV; Metering Mode: Matrix; Exposure: aperture priority (semi-auto); Flash Fired: No (enforced); Orientation: Normal. Fire – same except: Aperture: f/2.0; Exposure Time: 0.013 s (1/80); ISO equiv: 2000; Exposure Bias: -1.00 EV;
Color Space: sRGB.

  • West Riverside, Montana Coordinates: 46.883, -113.888

Earth Science Pic of the Day for 9/12 – Scorpio and Companions

Photographer: Stavros Hios; Stavros’s Web site
Summary Author: Stavros Hios; Jim Foster

The photo above showing the starry night sky as viewed from the village of Eglouvi on Lefkada Island, Greece was taken on June 29, 2011. The hook-shaped grouping of stars at left, dominated by brilliant 1.0 magnitude Antares, is the constellation of Scorpio. It appears that twin comets are blazing across the Heavens, but alas, it’s just a pair of Earth-bound fireflies gliding by the camera. Note that the structure in the foreground is the remnants of an ancient stone house.

Photo details: Camera Maker: NIKON CORPORATION; Camera Model: NIKON D3100; Lens: 18.0-135.0 mm f/3.5-5.6; Focal Length: 18mm (35mm equivalent: 27mm); Focus Distance: 3758m; Aperture: f/3.5; Exposure Time: 63.100 s; ISO equiv: 1600; Exposure Bias: +1.00 EV; Metering Mode: Matrix; Exposure: Manual; Exposure Mode: Manual; White Balance: Auto; Flash Fired: No; Orientation: Normal; Color Space: sRGB.