A Darker View

ESA/Hubble press release

H-ATLAS J142935.3-002836

Galaxy H-ATLAS J142935.3-002836 seen in a composite of Hubble and Keck 2 data, credit NASA/ESA/ESO/W. M. Keck Observatory

The NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope and many other telescopes on the ground and in space have been used to obtain the best view yet of a collision that took place between two galaxies when the Universe was only half its current age. The astronomers enlisted the help of a galaxy-sized magnifying glass to reveal otherwise invisible detail.

These new studies of the galaxy have shown that this complex and distant object looks surprisingly like the well-known local galaxy collision, the Antennae Galaxies.

In this picture, which combines views from Hubble and the Keck-II telescope on Hawaii (using adaptive optics), you can see a foreground galaxy that is acting as the gravitational lens. The galaxy resembles how our home galaxy, the Milky Way, would appear if seen edge-on. But around this galaxy there is an almost complete ring — the smeared out image of a star-forming galaxy merger far beyond.

Postcard from the Reef - Under the Thorns

The underside and mouth of a crown-of-thorns starfish (Acanthaster planci)

The Thorns

The armed and armored top of a crown-of-thorns starfish (Acanthaster planci)

Young Moon

A very young moon over Waikoloa, this is only 26 hours after new, visible to the unaided eye as a sliver in the fading glow of sunset

New Moon will occur today at 04:13HST.

Continue reading New Moon…

When you go to a dinner party involving members of an astronomy club you can expect telescopes…

Star Party at Cliff's

Debbie Goodwin gazes at Saturn through a C-14 at an evening star party in Waikoloa

As is my habit, I have produced a video summary of this summer’s voyage in the Nordic Quest. Take a few of the best photos, a little video, a snippet of timelapse, a decent tune, and mix well…

Nordic Quest 2014 from Andrew Cooper on Vimeo

Having done this more than a few times now it is getting harder to be creative. Still there are always unique shots that come back from any voyage, such as the mother grizzly and cubs. There is also a sequence I had always wanted to try, a timelapse of the huge Alaskan tide change. This time I had a chance to shoot it, and had some success.

Mark has put together another great video of our diving adventures aboard the Aqua Safari. Yes, we have this much fun…

Fog in the Trees

Fog smothers the sun along the Mauna Kea access road

Photography can be a tedious pursuit, even more so underwater where conditions can be very challenging. This leads to a regular issue in mixed dive parties. The photographers go slow, really slow. The other divers are ready to cover some ground. This occasionally means that the guys leave me behind.

Dive Profile

Dive profile for Suck ‘Em Up Cave

While diving alone is not recommended, the risk can be mitigated. I shift to a different set of rules, a far more conservative set of rules if I am on my own. I keep the depth much shallower, to where I could do an emergency ascent with little risk, this is generally 30ft or less. I do not go very far into a cave, perhaps working the twilight zone, but not getting into the back recesses of the many little caves common along the Kona coast. These sort of rules are usually not much of a compromise. Almost all of the dive sites on the Kona coast can be enjoyed while staying shallow. Many of my best finds have been in the twilight zone of the little reef caves. Staying shallow also has the benefit of extending the dive dramatically, it simply takes far less air to fill your lungs when shallow.

Gosline's Fang Blenny

Gosline’s fang blenny (Plagiotremus goslinei) sheltering in a worm tube, 20ft depth, Suck-Em-Up Cave

Suck-Em-Up cave fits the bill. The maximum depth here is 30ft, and there are so many entrances and skylights that an emergency ascent is always possible. The rest of the guys are planning to sweep the reef face and take a deep excursion before heading to the cave. I am planning to simply dive the cave as I have several photographic targets in mind. I am first into the water, swimming a few feet from the boat awaiting Pete, Ben and Dennis. A loud pop and woosh announces a blown o-ring on an air tank for Pete, this will lead to a short delay. I signal that I am dropping anyway, they know where I will be. The cave entrance is only a few yards from the boat. I give a salute and they wave back as I slide under.

Continue reading A Long Dive…

As Sky kicked past me he stirred up a cloud of silt in the cave. A moment later he realized I was there and was taking a photo. He apologized with a sheepish shrug, understanding the dirty look I was giving him. The cave wall was host to a dozen or more nudibranch and I was busy with the camera. There were gold lace nudis everywhere I looked, a couple white margined nudibranch added for variety.

As the silt settled I noted a larger object kicked up in the cloud. Closer inspection revealed an odd looking nudibranch floating down and settling on the algae covered rock. This was a new species to me! I took more than a dozen photos as the little slug crawled along. On consulting the book I was unable to locate a good match for this species, always a surprise, Hoover covers all of the common species.

It took a little more work to finally properly ID the nudi. It is a transparent nudibranch (Plocamopherus maculatus). I found it listed on Keoiki Stenders site, but the photos were not convicing. Once I had a species name I found it on Sea Slugs of Hawaii and in the website additions to Hoover’s book, where the photos are much closer to the specimen I found.

Back on the surface I told Sky about the nudi, letting him know that he was somewhat redeemed in revealing an interesting find, despite the cloud of silt.

Transparent Nudibranch

A transparent nudibranch (Plocamopherus maculatus) in a cave at Anaemoʻomalu Bay