Airglow Above Buenos Aires

January 26, 2013

AirglowPanorama_planet4 (2)

Photographer: Luis Argerich; Luis's Web site
Summary Authors: Luis Argerich; Jim Foster

Even on clear moonless nights, the sky is never totally dark. Shown above is a 360-degree stereographic projection showing the entire night sky near my location about 60 mi (100 km) from Buenos Aires, Argentina. The pervasive greenish light is a strong airglow display. Airglow is a weak light emission stemming from the chemical reactions involving oxygen, nitrogen, sodium and ozone (chemiluminescence) at altitudes between about 50 to 60 mi (80 to 96 km) above the Earth’s surface. Note that the green color bands, though quite obvious in the camera, weren't visible to the naked eye. These bands seem to converge because of perspective. At right (south) are the Magellanic Clouds and at left (north) are Jupiter and the Pleiades. Photo taken on December 12, 2012.

Photo details: Aperture: f/2.8; Exposure Time: 20.000 s; ISO equiv: 3200; Software: GIMP 2.6.11.