International Year of Light Logo. Credit: Chandra X-Ray Observatory
The United Nations, with support from UNESCO, has dubbed 2015 the International Year of Light. To celebrate, the international society for optics and photonics (SPIE) and the Chandra X-ray Center/Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory are leading a new international exhibition project.
The project, “LIGHT: Beyond the Bulb,” was launched this month in about 40 locations around the globe with more sites coming soon. The exhibition is also a cornerstone project for the International Astronomical Union.
The inspiration for “LIGHT: Beyond the Bulb” came from an award-winning public science exhibit called “From the Earth the Universe,” which took place during the International Year of Astronomy in 2009. In that project, tens of millions of people participated in over 1000 exhibits held in 75 countries.
“LIGHT: Beyond the Bulb” is an open-source program designed to feature light-based science across disciplines, technological platforms and the electromagnetic spectrum. The crowd-sourced and expert-curated exhibit materials are available online. A few of the recent images of the day can be seen below:
Behind the glow of an active volcano, the beautiful starry skies can be seen from a dark site in Hawaii. Without the lights from human development, thousands of individual stars as well as the Milky Way galaxy can be seen. Unfortunately, light pollution from poorly designed and inefficient lighting is taking away this wonderful cosmic view from most people. In fact, light pollution is so common only a handful of the very brightest stars can be seen from the ground in most urban and suburban environments. Image Credit: Rogelio Bernal Andreo/DeepSkyColors.com/Ciel et Espace
When you start looking on different scales, things can appear in a whole new light. Take, for example, this photomicrograph of a recrystalized mixture of anti-mucus medication and sodium citrate. A photomicrograph is simply an image that has been taken using a camera attached to a microscope. This particular photomicrograph was taken in polarized light. Typically, light waves vibrate in all different directions. When light is restricted to vibrating in just one plane, it is called “polarization” and this phenomenon can enhance certain features in such photomicrographs. Image Credit: Marek Mís
The term “sun dog” refers to a pair of bright lights seen on either side of the Sun, typically when it is setting. Sun dogs belong to a large class of atmospheric phenomena caused by the bending of sunlight by small ice crystals in the air. The crystals act as prisms, bending the light rays. If the crystals are randomly oriented in the atmosphere, a complete ring around the Sun–a halo–is seen, as is the case with this photograph. The best time to see sun dogs is during the winter when the Sun is close to the horizon. Image Credit: Thomas DeHoff