Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Life Imitating Photoshop

This looks like a badly Photoshopped picture, but it's real, and required a half an hour of Hubble telescope time to get enough light to resolve the image. It looks like a ghost of a dead galaxy. Sadly, it is not. It's the result of the death throes of a carbon star, throwing off material, and because it's orbiting another star the ejected material comes out in a spiral. Think of a rotating sprinkler head to visualize the effect.

What I like about the picture is that it looks like this, another example of life imitating bad Photoshop. But this spiral was caused by entirely different circumstances: a missile launch gone bad, spewing fuel in an exact spiral. I love the recurrence of certain basic shapes and patterns in nature. Spheres and discs, spiral arms. The golden mean. Fibonacci numbers.

Thanks to APOD for the pic.

We went to a campground with Tolstoy and the boys this weekend. We have a recent habit of arbitrarily choosing Colorado campgrounds, showing up, seeing what it's like. This time the campground was maybe 300 yards from the Interstate. You could see a McDonald's sign and three different motels from the tent. You could hear the dull throb of traffic day and night.

Still, it's hard to be unhappy while camping. We had several ponds and a rubber raft to play with. We saw an egret, a HUGE heron, several killdeer. The campground was formerly a series of gravel pits that were filled with water and turned into a wildlife refuge. Traffic noise notwithstanding, it's hard to argue with the result. And a gorgeous Saturday night sky, despite the lights: Jupiter anchoring one end, Venus and a thin crescent moon anchoring the other, and Cassiopeia, Pegasus, Sagittarius and Scorpio spread out on the canvas between them.


ArtSparker said...

Hmm, maybe we could plan a blogger camping jamboree mid-country for next summer? Might be fun...

Poet in Residence said...

Sadly, it seems to be, if your YouTube video link is anything to go by, and I suspect it is, that very many people are unable to discuss unusual sightings with an open mind. They always end up, or start up, it seems to me by slagging one another other off. Perhaps it's simply due to the fear of the unknown. On the other hand maybe it could be due to eating too much junk food. I think it's most probably a rocket gone out of control. Hopefully not that diy-rocket from Copenhagen.

Margaret said...

There's a Fibonacci equation for the pattern of florets in a sunflower head.
Math is so mysterious to me.

Cool pix; nature likes to work with spheres, (we with squares).

Wanderlust Scarlett said...

That was so cool. I was reading 'recurrence of certain basic shapes and patterns...' and I thought OH! the Golden Mean! I should mention that to... *laugh* he already knows.
I am so not surprised. Quite delighted, in fact, to know you know. Birds of a feather and like that.

Fibonacci indeed. :)

The night out camping sounds wonderful. Isn't it a soul connection to see those planets and stars up there every night, moving as we know they will, doing what they will do, and we are all connected in some unseen symbiotic tandem of controlled chaos. I love that.

Clowncar said...

I would be up for that, Art. Meeting other bloggers has always worked out well. Intimate strangers. And camping, well, I never say no to camping.

Hey PiR, those folks already have the explanation at hand, they're just waiting for the phenomena. Blindered to true mystery by certainty.

Yep, Mags. No squares in nature. Or right angles, or parallel lines. That's all a construct. Though I suppose it makes doing things like building houses a little easier.

Well put, Scarlett: "some unseen symbiotic tandem of controlled chaos." But to more important things - how bout those Rockies? Bought your playoff tickets yet? I'm picking the Rays to win the whole enchilada.

slommler said...

What an awesome picture you have created with words about your camping experience with the night time sky! I could see it plainly as if I were there with you.
And seeing those spirals was something else. Amazing!!

Laurita said...

It is hard to be unhappy while camping. This time of year is the best time to enjoy those outdoor evenings.

That photo is amazing. The sky and space are both endlessly fascinating and scary to me.

Clowncar said...

Sue Ann, this is my favorite sky of the year, which is why I love to describe it.

Laurita, exactly. Hard to be unhappy while camping. Unless you're, you know, being eaten by a bear or something.

Wanderlust Scarlett said...

Have not bought playoff tickets... but I'm listening to the games every day!

Rays huh? Hmph.

Let's talk about the heavens, shall we? ;D

Scarlett & Viaggiatore