You don’t need the sun to see a rainbow in the sky. If you know where to look, you can spot a star twinkling with the full spectrum of colors in the middle of the night. As Co.Design reports, UK-based astrophotographer Steve Brown captured this colorful phenomenon using some clever camera work.
His photograph, titled "Scintillating Sirius," recently made the shortlist for the 2017 Insight Astronomy Photographer of the Year awards. It depicts Sirius, the brightest star visible from Earth. Every night the star puts on a light show when the same turbulence that causes it to twinkle refracts its light waves to shine in different shades. Its multicolored nature has earned Sirius the nickname "Rainbow Star."
Brown has learned to capture the star’s dazzling display in a single composite image by filming it out of focus. This makes the glare of the starlight easier to see on camera. After a night of shooting, he sifts through the footage and hand-picks his favorite hues to go into one patchwork image.
Last year, a different image of Sirius taken by Brown called "Rainbow Star" won the stars and nebulae category of the Insight Astronomy Photographer of the Year competition. He told the IAPY at the time, “Whenever I see Sirius in the night sky I always take a moment to enjoy the rapid cycle of colors it displays, especially when close to the horizon […] its twinkling seems to go through every color of the rainbow.”
His entry this year is even more impressive, comprising 728 points of light. You can view more of the contest’s shortlist selections below.