Some people spend their whole lives trying to recapture some innocence, that first experience, maybe whimsical dreams of their younger years, chasing yesterday’s playful imagination like Peter Pan’s shadow.
No matter our Earthly age, do we not all turn to children when we look up at the night sky? Second star to the right, and all the rest, too.
Learn their secrets, study their science and tie them to your wrist so that they can follow you in the daylight, until you discover them new again, when darkness falls.
Night on the Farm
We spent Saturday night at my brother-in-law’s family farm. It’s down there in one of those south Texas towns where they have trouble fielding a full eleven-man football team and there’s more wild hogs than people.
The air was thick with moisture and grasshoppers, and despite the heat, I didn’t mind the sweat as much. Maybe because shared misery is somehow less painful. We’re all equally humble with our bangs stuck to our foreheads. Or maybe it’s because I was in one of those chairs that rocks back and forth. Perhaps those remind us of our mothers cradling us to sleep, if our moms had cup holders in their arms the perfect size for a cold beer. It was one of those hot evenings where everyone’s just fine with not talking, somehow it just seems right.
It was a much-needed trip. I didn’t realize it until the past couple weeks, but I’ve been straining my sanity pretty hard these past couple months. For me, that sunset represented a decompression chamber that reached all the way to the horizon.
I made a video about how sunsets work. Don’t worry, it doesn’t remove any of the beauty to know where the colors come from.
I tried my hand at star photography for the first time, too. It was a spur of the moment decision, so I didn’t have time to fully plan the shots, and I need some practice mastering my camera settings when it comes to long-exposure stuff. But it’s not bad for a single shot. No layerin’ or nothin’. More to come when I can get out of Austin and back to the dark again.
So. Many. Stars.
Wouldn’t it be ironic if astronauts got to go up to space only to see no stellar beauty?
While it’s true that astronauts often can’t see stars from orbit, it doesn’t have to do with whether or not there’s an atmosphere. It’s actually pretty simple, and it’s the same reason you can’t see stars in the middle of the day: That dang sun.
If the sun is out, it reflects a massive amount of light off Earth’s surface, far more light than any stars (other than our sun) are giving off. On Earth, the molecules in the atmosphere scatter the sun’s light and make our sky blue and starless in the day time. To an astronaut on the day side of Earth, there’s no atmosphere to scatter a blue sky, but the effect on the stars is equally obfuscating.
Staring into the void, an astronaut’s eyes don’t have the dynamic range to see tiny, dim dots of light when there’s other sources of illumination around. It’s similar to how it’s hard to look out a window into the dark of night when you’re in a lit room.
The same thing happens on the moon. That’s why Apollo pictures are so brilliantly lit, but the sky above them is devoid of stars.
If an astronaut is on the night side of Earth, and there’s no light from the moon, then they can definitely see stars. Here’s some gorgeous video proof:
Star Charts of Hollywood
A delightful piece of astronomy crossed with film history, this star chart maps the constellations of Hollywood’s Golden Age, connecting its brightest stars just like we do with cosmic burning balls of gas. They’ve also got one for modern Hollywood.
Available for sale via UK design studio Dorothy, who have some really great periodic table, light and color, and map-related art on their site.
Peer into the center of the Milky Way with this stunning time-lapse video from Chile’s Paranal Observatory, by photographer Stéphane Guisard. Pretty perfect for a Friday, eh?
The bright streak that traverses our sky is the actual disk of our galaxy, the “milk” in our “way” is from the density of stars along the disk-like plane of our spiral home. You can also see a couple of our neighboring galaxies in there, dusty splotches against the inky dome.
Rebecca Rosen has more, with a nice reminder that any picture of a galaxy showing an arrow that says “you are here” is lying to you :) A Whole-Sky Time-Lapse of the Galactic Center - The Atlantic
Bonus: Take a look at this mind-bogglingly big snapshot of the Milky Way, a nine-gigapixel image containing more than 84 million stars. Think that’s a lot? It’s just 1% of the sky, and just this galaxy. It’s also my desktop background image!
Source: The Atlantic