The Colors of Andes

By: Babak A. Tafreshi


Region: Americas

Site: Chajnantor - Chile

Date: November 2011

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At the end of a cold starry night at altitude of 5000 meters on the Chilean Andes (Chajnantor Plateau) the shadow of the Earth appears before sunrise. The ice field in the foreground is a familiar feature of high altitudes dry areas of Andes known as ice penitentes. They are in the form of tall thin blades of hardened snow or ice closely spaced. Some of them can be taller than a person. The image looks toward the west; the opposite horizon from the sun. Note the red-pink glow or antitwilight band which is separated from the horizon by the dark layer of the Earth shadow in the atmosphere. The red-pink glow is due to back scattering of reddened light from the rising Sun and is known as the Belt of Venus. Click on the star-pattern icon above the image to see photographers Babak Tafreshi (left), Stephane Guisard (middle), and Christoph Malin (right) who visited Chajnantor Plateau on an imaging mission for the European Southern Observatory (ESO). Babak Tafreshi/

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