Tuesday, June 05, 2007
When the world is too much with us...
I like to think about the worlds beyond our world, the expanse and unimaginable beauty of unseen realms that we can now see. What an extraordinary gift it is to encounter such a treasure, to understand how little we really comprehend and of what singular majesty we are a small part.
This is Reflection Nebula in Ophiuchius, Credit & Copyright: Takayuki Yoshida from Astronomy Picture of the Day
Why does this starfield photograph resemble an impressionistic painting? The effect is created not by digital trickery but by large amounts of interstellar dust. Dust, minute globs rich in carbon and similar in size to cigarette smoke, frequently starts in the outer atmospheres of large, cool, young stars. The dust is dispersed as the star dies and grows as things stick to it in the interstellar medium. Dense dust clouds are opaque to visible light and can completely hide background stars. For less dense clouds, the capacity of dust to preferentially reflect blue starlight becomes important, effectively blooming the stars blue light out and marking the surrounding dust. Nebular gas emissions, typically brightest in red light, can combine to form areas seemingly created on an artist's canvas. Photographed above is roughly four square degrees of the nebula IC 4603 near the bright star Antares toward the constellation of Ophiuchus.
Mainer, New Yawka, Beijinger, Californian, points between. News, views and ballyhoos that piqued my interest and caused me to sigh, cry, chuckle, groan or throw something.
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