Unless they are astronauts, humans must view the Universe through the window of the Earth’s atmosphere. Although a clear sky is relatively transparent to visible light, bright astronomical objects — most noticeably the Sun — can paint the entire sky with luminosity, colour and shadow to be captured by both landscape painters and photographers. How does this happen and what physical processes are responsible for these beautiful colours, gradations and patterns? The talk explains some of this and is illustrated with spectacular images of the sky from space and from above the European observatories in the Chilean Atacama desert.
Robert (Bob) Fosbury is currently an emeritus astronomer at the European Southern Observatory and an honorary professor at the Institute of Ophthalmology at UCL.
The video recording of this lecture is now freely available on the Virtual BRLSI YouTube channel. Please go the following link to view.
There is also an extended paper on this subject as a PDF file on the following link.