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OM’s Ian Griffin & SOFIA see Southern Lights

SOFIA’s Southern Lights. Image Credit & CopyrightIan Griffin (Otago Museum)

Astronomy Picture of the Day, NASA, 29 July 2o22

Explanation: SOFIA, the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy, is a Boeing 747SP aircraft modified to carry a large reflecting telescope into the stratosphere. The ability of the airborne facility to climb above about 99 percent of Earth’s infrared-blocking atmosphere has allowed researchers to observe from almost anywhere over the planet. On a science mission flying deep into the southern auroral oval, astronomer Ian Griffin, director of New Zealand’s Otago Museum, captured this view from the observatory’s south facing starboard side on July 17. Bright star Canopus shines in the southern night above curtains of aurora australis, or southern lights. The plane was flying far south of New Zealand at the time at roughly 62 degrees southern latitude. Unfortunately, after a landing at Christchurch severe weather damaged SOFIA requiring repairs and the cancellation of the remainder of its final southern hemisphere deployment.

Council of Australasian Museum Directors c/o Mr Brian Oldman, South Australian Museum PO Box 234 Adelaide, South Australia 5001 Australia, © CAMD 2022
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