Epod - Earth Science Picture of the Day


The Resin of the Cherry Tree

June 27, 2022

When trees experience stressful conditions, they react by producing a rubbery material called resin. These environmental stresses can cause injuries to the trees created by climatic factors, such as temperature and water availability, or biological factors, like pathological attacks by fungi or larvae that insinuate themselves inside the plant. Alternatively, resin production could simply be due to tree aging.

In the photo above, I have captured the resin produced by a cherry tree growing near Madonie Park in Sicily, Italy. Although the gummy material that comes out of the bark is not a good sign for the health of the plant, it is undeniable that the brilliance of the resin under the sunlight produces a very interesting appearance. Once dried, resin turns into a material called amber that protects the tree from future stresses or injuries.  Photo taken on September 14, 2021.

Photo details: NIKON D3400 1/320 sec. f / 13 160 mm ISO 200 75mm lens

Madonie Park, Sicily, Italy Coordinates: 37.877, 14.026


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The Resin of the Cherry Tree

June 27, 2022


Quando gli alberi sperimentano condizioni stressanti, reagiscono producendo un materiale gommoso chiamato resina. Questi stress ambientali possono causare danni agli alberi causati da fattori climatici, come temperatura e disponibilità di acqua, o biologici, come attacchi patologici da parte di funghi o larve che si insinuano all'interno della pianta. In alternativa, la produzione di resina potrebbe essere semplicemente dovuta all'invecchiamento degli alberi.


Nella foto sopra, ho catturato la resina prodotta da un ciliegio che cresce vicino al Parco delle Madonie in Sicilia, Italia. Sebbene il materiale gommoso che fuoriesce dalla corteccia non sia un buon segno per la salute della pianta, è innegabile che la brillantezza della resina alla luce del sole produce un aspetto molto interessante. Una volta essiccata, la resina si trasforma in un materiale chiamato ambra che protegge l'albero da futuri stress o lesioni. Foto scattata il 14 settembre 2021.


Dettagli foto: NIKON D3400 1/320 sec. f / 13 160 mm ISO 200 Obiettivo 75 mm

Parco delle Madonie, Sicilia, Italia Coordinate: 37.877, 14.026


25 Maggio 2022 - Bonus Earth Science Picture of the Day
Lunar Cloud Iridescence and Pleiades 
Photographer & Summary Author: Teresa Molinaro
The photo below captures the night sky over Cefalù, Sicily, Italy on December 16, 2021.
While I was preparing the photography equipment on the beach near Cefalù, the lighting quickly changed.
All of a sudden, the scattered light took on a denser and more interesting appearance, with the Moon becoming the protagonist of the evening.
Visible around the Moon were a variety of colors and night sky objects. Cloud iridescence shone overhead and the Pleiades cluster can be seen when enlarging the photo. The optical phenomenon producing this colorful effect- cloud Iridescence- is caused by the interaction of incoming light with water particles or ice crystals present in the cloud cover. When solar, lunar or astral light interacts with these droplets or ice structures, it is diffracted, giving rise to this play of colors.
Photo details: Nikon D3400, 1/5 second exposure, f/5.6, ISO-800, 45mm lens
Cefalù, Sicily, Italy Coordinates:
38.033, 14.017
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25 Maggio 2022 - Foto del giorno di scienze della Terra Bonus

Iridescenza e Pleiadi delle Nube Lunare

Fotografa e riassunto autrice: Teresa Molinaro

La foto qui sotto riprende il cielo notturno su Cefalù, Sicilia, Italia, il 16 dicembre 2021.

Mentre preparavo l'attrezzatura fotografica sulla spiaggia vicino Cefalù, l'illuminazione è rapidamente cambiata.

All'improvviso, la luce sparsa assunse un aspetto più denso e interessante, con la Luna protagonista della serata.

Visibili intorno alla Luna c'erano una varietà di colori e oggetti del cielo notturno. L'iridescenza delle nuvole brillava sopra la testa e l'ammasso delle Pleiadi può essere visto ingrandendo la foto. Il fenomeno ottico che produce questo effetto colorato - Iridescenza nuvola- è causato dall'interazione della luce in arrivo con particelle d'acqua o cristalli di ghiaccio presenti nella copertura nuvola. Quando la luce solare, lunare o astrale interagisce con queste goccioline o strutture di ghiaccio, essa viene diffratta, dando origine a questo gioco di colori.

Dettagli foto: Nikon D3400, esposizione 1/5 secondi, f/5.6, ISO-800, obiettivo 45mm

Cefalù, Sicilia, Italia Coordinate:

38.033, 14.017


Teresa Molinaro

Fotografa e Astrofotografa

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Venere e il Tempio della Concordia è la mia foto scelta come EPOD del 28 novembre 2023


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The magical golden hour following sunset brings about many vistas including times when the eastern sky is filled with anticrepuscular rays. These sunbeams occur on the opposite horizon from the Sun and appear to converge towards the antisolar point. Anticrepuscular rays typically accompany crepuscular rays that appear on the opposite horizon. Both atmospheric ray phenomena are produced when incoming sunlight is partially blocked by clouds or a tall landform and are accentuated when dust, smoke or other particulates are in the air. Although the anticrepuscular rays appear to converge at the antisolar point, the sunbeams are actually parallel in the atmosphere and this optical effect is caused by the viewer’s perspective.

The photo above was taken on December 22, 2021, at around 4:50PM local time. That evening, I found myself observing the sea just as the Sun had set behind me. To my surprise, these soft but unmistakable anticrepuscular rays radiated into the sky. In addition, an orange and pink hue produced by Belt of Venus is also faintly visible on the eastern horizon.

Photo details: Nikon D3400, 1/160 second exposure, f/10, ISO-400

  • Bagheria, Sicily, Italy Coordinates: 38.083, 13.500


Photographer: Teresa Molinaro


Summary Authors: Teresa Molinaro; Cadan Cummings

Sunrise and sunset are beautiful times of the day to photograph the gradually changing colors and clouds of our sky. This is embodied by the photo above from the province of Palermo, Sicily on the evening of July 4, 2021, when the clouds appeared to be set ablaze in a fiery red hue. At around 9pm local time, the sky was suddenly tinged with color that quickly changed from orange to red. The reason the sky at sunrise and sunset is so vibrantly colored is due to light scattering. As light passes through the atmosphere, its direction changes when it interacts with gases and small molecules on the way to our eyes. Longer wavelengths of light (red and orange) are not as affected by scatter as shorter wavelength (blue and violet) light. When the Sun angle is low on the horizon, the sunlight must pass through comparably more atmosphere, which causes increased scattering of blue and violet spectra. At sunset and sunrise, this unequal scattering is why we see mainly red, orange, and yellow light on the horizon.

Photo details: Nikon D3400, 70 mm lens, 1/5 second exposure, f/4.5, ISO-800.

Bagheria, Sicily, Italy Coordinates: 38.083, 13.500



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Bonus Earth Science Picture of the Day
Solar Halo Among the Cherry Blossoms 
Photographer & Summary Author: Teresa Molinaro

This photo features a solar halo spotted taken in Sicily, Italy on April 21, 2021. A solar halo is a striking optical phenomenon that surrounds the Sun with a colorful circular “halo”. This vibrant effect is produced when hexagonal ice crystals suspended in the atmosphere- often comprising cirrus clouds- diffract incoming light as it passes through. Halos typically have a radius of 22 degrees (hence the indicative name of the phenomenon) or 46 degrees, with a thickness that can vary from a minimum of 9 to a maximum of 35 degrees. In general, they can last from a few minutes to several hours, which I was able to verify since the event I witnessed was visible for three hours straight from around 11 AM to 2 PM local time. Since it lasted for several hours, it allowed me to take a series of shots. The halo and cherry blossoms in the foreground seem to welcome spring.

Photo details: Nikon D3400 18-105mm lens, 1/1000 second exposure, f/16, ISO-100

Polizzi Generosa, Sicily, Italy Coordinates:
37,81189° N, 14,00434° E


Bonus Earth Science Photo of the Day - 11 Semptember 2021


Photographer: Teresa Molinaro


On the evening of May 13, 2021, I was ready to observe the conjunction between the Moon and Mercury. After several shots of the two objects clearly visible in the sky I was looking for something else, a terrestrial reference point that would allow me to take a different shot than usual. And so, moving along the seafront of Aspra, a well-known tourist resort in the province of Palermo (Sicily) and a place dear to me, I put myself in the right trajectory to immortalize the crescent moon growing with its ashy light and the elusive planet Mercury within a special frame: this is the travertine sculpture entitled “The Nativity”, by the local artist and writer Stefano Balistreri. The sculpture is dedicated by the artist to the victims of 11 September and is aimed at symbolizing universal peace. Note that the planet Venus is also visible, bright and low on the western horizon. You can also see the lights of the city of Palermo and the Utveggio Castle on the promontory of Monte Pellegrino.

Photo Details: Nikon D3400, 1/30S, f/5.6, ISO 800


Photographer: Teresa Molinaro 

Summary Authors: Teresa Molinaro; Jim Foster

During an excursion on the high Madonie, in Sicily (Italy), my eye was drawn to this weathered spiderweb, adorned with shimmering drops of dew. All that was required to show it off at its best was just a little more light, which was achieved by shooting in black and white and slightly increasing the ISO. Because beads of water have a tendency to gather at roughened spots on the web, at thread intersections for instance, this is where the larger dew drops are found. Photo taken on June 14, 2020.

Photo details: Nikon D3400 camera:105 mm; 1/250 second exposure; f/5.6; ISO 400.

Parco delle Madonie, Sicily, Italy Coordinates: 37.84861, 14.0497265


Photographer: Teresa Molinaro 


The photo above features a dramatic sunset on June 18, 2021 after a very hot summer day. Although I was at 3,117 ft (950 m) above sea level, immersed in the splendid Madonie Park, even here the heat was heavy and annoying. I was hoping to find refreshment in the green of nature and luckily around sunset the temperature began to be more bearable. I waited for the sunset because I anticipated the suspended Saharan dust would enhance the colors of the Sun, giving the sunset an African flavor. At around 8:30pm local time the Sun was preparing to go down behind the horizon, and it seemed that it was plunging into the houses of Polizzi Generosa in the heart of the Madonie. The spectacular colors of the sunset are due to the Saharan dust disproportionately scattering shorter wavelengths of light, thereby giving the sunset a reddish orange hue.


Photo Data: Nikon D3400 1/250s, F/8, iso 200, lens 450MM

Polizzi Generosa, Sicily, Italy Coordinates: 37.813,14.004

Photographer: Teresa Molinaro 


Bonus Earth Science Picture of the Day

Iridescence Creates a Nebula in the Lake

Photographer and Summary Author: Teresa Molinaro

When the sky is reflected in the water, bringing all its colors with it, the resulting spectacle is truly amazing. I was on an excursion in search of autumn landscapes to photograph near the shore of Lake Mandria del Conte, located inside the Madonie Park. Around noon, the sun began to play hide and seek with the clouds. As always, I had my camera in my hand and while I was intent on enjoying the landscape, I noticed that the lake was reflecting the magnificent iridescences that had been created around the Sun. A truly unmissable scene I had never seen before: a play of lights and colors that immediately brought to mind the image of a nebula!

When sunlight encounters the water drops of the altocumulus or altostratus, or the highest and thinnest clouds present in the atmosphere, it is diffracted. Therefore, phenomena are generated that are observable around the Sun or the Moon. If the water particles are all the same size, the crown takes shape, that is a circular rainbow around the Sun or the Moon, made of suggestive iridescences. If the water particles are instead irregular, the beautiful and always various iridescent clouds are generated.

Photo details: Nikon D3400, 1/1600 second exposure, f/29, ISO-200, 105mm lens

Visit today's Earth Science Picture of the Day at https://epod.usra.edu/



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EPOD June 03, 2021

Photo showing an iridescent sunset was captured from the terrace of my home in Bagheria, Italy, as mid-level clouds approached the Sun. Photo taken on February 5, 2021.

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