Milky Way above a turquoise wonderland

  • Lucie Dospivová
  • 30.05.2023
In its daily posting of the most beautiful astronomical photos, NASA published an image from a Czech artist on 29th of May, 2023. To date, a total of 61 Czech photographs have appeared in this prestigious list. The author of today's Astronomy Picture of the Day, Petr Horálek, dominates among them, reaching the full forty images published in this way. NASA's Astronomical Images of the Day are also available to the Czech public on the Czech Astronomical Society's website, where they are published every day with a Czech description by Ing. Josef Chlachula, who has been translating it every day without a single break for more than 23 years.

Today's NASA image of the day, Milky Way over a Turquoise Wonderland, was taken on 14th of February this year and shows the beach of Soneva Jani Island in the Indian Ocean. The beach is strongly illuminated by the blue glow of luminous plankton, whose activity lasted much longer this year than in other years. Normally, the bright plankton illuminates the beaches of the Indian Ocean islands with its striking colour when the waves are breaking, especially in December and the first half of January. The prolonged activity allowed the photographer to record an unusual composition - along with the plankton, the stars and nebulae around the Southern Cross appear in the celestial part of the image, which in February in these parts can be observed already around midnight. The image itself is a single exposure shot taken with a sensitive camera mounted on a fixed tripod.

Photographs, including descriptions in Czech and links of the captured areas, can be found here. The story of the photograph is described by the author Petr Horalek on the website owned by the the Institute of Physics in Opava.

NASA Astronomy Picture of the Day, May 29, 2023,  the author is Petr Horalek from the Institute of Physics, Silesian University in Opava. NASA Astronomy Picture of the Day, May 29, 2023, the author is Petr Horalek from the Institute of Physics, Silesian University in Opava.

The first image of Mr. Peter Horalek was published by NASA in July 2014. Less than 9 years later, his 40th anniversary image of the day, taken in collaboration with the Institute of Physics in Opava, shows a unique combination of nighttime glows in nature: a starry sky with the Milky Way above a plankton-lit beach on an island in the Indian Ocean.

Among the 40 NASA images authored or co-authored by Mgr. Petr Horalek from the Institute of Physics in Opava, we can find images of various astronomical phenomena and views of (not only) the night sky captured in many places around the world. Among the phenomena, solar eclipses and lunar eclipses are the most frequent. During one lunar eclipse, the author managed to capture a rare glimpse of a meteorite hitting the lunar surface. His other domain is comet photography; NASA has published his images of comet NEOWISE and this year's comet ZTF, for example. As the first Czech photo ambassador for the European Southern Observatory (ESO), he had several opportunities to travel to both the La Silla and Paranal observatories in Chile, where he captured views of the sky far from light pollution. The most frequently published site was the Seč Dam in the Chrudim region, which Horalek grew to love as a child and from where he took a total of 7 NASA published images.

Astrophotographer Petr Horálek is a delegate of the International Dark Sky Asssotiation and his many photographs consistently draw attention to the problem of light pollution. The Czech Astronomical Society, whose Expert Group for Light Pollution Solutions works closely with the Ministry of the Environment, which extends the protection of dark skies to the night environment. In recent years, tools are finally being developed to protect nightlife or human health, such as the Methodological Guideline for Assessment in the EIA process and, in particular, the recently adopted Czech technical standard ČSN 36 0459 - Limiting the Adverse Effects of Outdoor Lighting, effective from 1 March 2023. However, this is still not enough and we still need more in the area of protecting the night environment, because living nature is very vulnerable in the human effort to turn night into a prolonged day. The way to go is to cut light at night when we don't need it, just 'last one out', or not to shine full light throughout the night. For more information you can visit this website.

NASA's Astronomy Picture Of the Day (APOD) is a prestigious award for the most interesting astronomical photograph of the day, carefully selected for each day and then accompanied by an educational caption by NASA associate editors Prof. Jerry Bonnell (of Michigan Technological University) and Prof. Robert Nemiroff (of the University of Maryland). APOD's motto is "Explore the Universe" and since 1995, when the selection began, it has become one of the most respected of its type worldwide. The accompanying texts are translated into 23 world languages, including English (which has been handled by Josef Chlachula since 1999), and APOD is followed on social media by hundreds of millions of visitors a day.

Contact details and additional information:

Mgr. Petr Horalek

PR spokeperson for european projects at the Institute of physics in Opava
Telefon: +420 732 826 853

RNDr. Tomas Graf, Ph.D.

Head of WHOO! and Unisphere Observatory at the Institute of physics in Opava
Telefon: +420 553 684 548

The Czech Astronomical Society (CAS) has been issuing press releases on current astronomical and astronomy-related events since May 1998. Starting with Press Release No. 67 of 23 October 2004, some press releases are issued jointly with the Astronomical Institute of the Czech Academy of Sciences, v. v. i. An archive of press releases and other information not only for journalists can be found here. For technical and organizational matters concerning press releases, please contact the Press Secretary of the CAS Pavel Suchan at the Astronomical Institute of the CAS, v. v. i., Boční II/1401, 141 31 Prague 4, tel.: 737 322 815, e-mail: