Friday, January 28, 2011

NANOSAIL-D Photo Contest and NASA are joining forces encourage photography of NanoSail-D, the first solar sail to circle Earth in low orbit. Amateur and professional astronomers and even casual sky watchers can participate. The solar sail will occasionally be visible to the naked eye when sunlight glints off the spacecraft's 10 m2 sail, producing a spectacular flash akin to an Iridium Flare. Even novice photographers can capture such a bright event. Advanced astrophotographers, meanwhile, will want to try to image the sail through backyard telescopes. It will be a challenge (the sail is only 1 arcsecond across), but even fuzzy pictures could help NASA monitor the condition of the spacecraft. Cash prizes will be awarded to the first ($500), second ($200), and third ($100) place photos, judged by a NASA-appointed panel on the basis of beauty and technical merit.

The contest begins now and ends when NanoSail-D reenters the atmosphere in April or May 2011. Visit for details