O’Bryan walked me slowly down the steep side of the mesa, to the desert floor, so I could see Star Axis in its entirety. The work’s centrepiece is a 10-storey staircase that lets you walk up through the rock of the mesa, your eyes fixed on a small circular opening that cuts through the top of the pyramid. The first section of the staircase is roofless and open to the sky, but the end of it has a stone overhang that makes it look and feel like a tunnel. This ‘star tunnel’, as Ross calls it, is precisely aligned with Earth’s axis. If you bored a tunnel straight through the Earth’s core, from the South Pole to North Pole, and climbed up it, you’d see the same circle of sky that you do when you walk through Ross’ tunnel. Gazing up through it in the afternoon glare, I saw a patch of blue, the size and shape of a dime held at arm’s length. But if the sun had blinked for a moment, fading the heavens to black, I’d have seen Polaris, glittering at the end of the tunnel, like a solitary diamond in the void.
"Embracing the Void
," Ross Andersen, Aeon
posted by Rustic Etruscan
on Oct 17, 2013 -
[SLInteractive3DVisualization] (Seems to run best on Chrome or Safari and a decent graphics card
posted by gwint
on Nov 14, 2012 -
Hubble's hidden treasures
"Hubble has made over a million observations since launch, but only a small proportion are attractive images ... but the vast amount of data in the archive means that there are still many hundreds of beautiful images
scattered among the valuable, but visually unattractive, scientific data that have never been enjoyed by the public. We call these pictures Hubble’s hidden treasures
, and a few months ago, we invited the public to look through Hubble’s science archive to help us find them."
posted by dhruva
on Aug 23, 2012 -
On July 17th, NASA's Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer
(WISE) satellite completed its first survey of the entire sky viewable from Earth
. After just seven months in orbit, WISE -- a precursor to the planned James Webb Space Telescope
-- has returned more than a million images that provide a close look at celestial objects
ranging from distant galaxies
. The first release of WISE data, covering about 80 percent of the sky, will be delivered to the astronomical community in May of next year
, but in the meantime we can see some of the images and animations that NASA has released to date: Galleries (containing just a small selection of images)
. Videos and Animations: 1
, 2 [more inside]
posted by zarq
on Jul 24, 2010 -
"The arc of the Milky Way seen from a truly dark location is part of our planet's natural heritage
," said Connie Walker, and astronomer from the U.S. National Optical Astronomy Observatory in Tucson, Arizona. Yet "more than one fifth of the world population, two thirds of the U.S. population and one half of the European Union
population have already lost naked eye visibility of the Milky Way
." In these areas, people are effectively living in perennial moonlight
. They rarely realize it because they still experience the sky to be brighter under a full moon than under new moon conditions. "Reducing the number of lights on at night could help conserve energy, protect wildlife and benefit human health
," astronomer Malcolm Smith of the Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory in Chile. One study found an increased risk of breast cancer for women living in areas with the most light pollution (abstract
). Some communities are embracing their dark skies
, such as the New Zealand community of Tekapo
, possibly home to first "Starlight Reserve
," waiting on UNESCO's official approval. Not sure where to look in the vast night sky
? Follow some guidelines
, or check the view in Chile
, Queensland, Australia
, or Texas
posted by filthy light thief
on Jun 13, 2009 -
It's like Google Maps...for space.
Wikisky is a draggable, zoomable, web-based star map. And if you click on a star or other object, it brings up a page with all the information you could want on it, including recent articles and astrophotos that contain that object. And it does lots more. Go explore.
posted by Jimbob
on Mar 22, 2007 -
IN 1877 Isabel Gill visited an inhospitable volcanic blob
in the mid-Atlantic to help her husband
with ground-breaking astronomical measurements.
Then she wrote a wrote a book
about it, including an attempt to explain to fellow Victorian ladies the concept of a solar parallax in terms she thought they might be able to grasp:"I myself do not understand mathematical terms, so how could I use them with the hope of explaining these things to my readers? However, I can use knitting-needles, and perhaps they may do just as well."
Wierdly, more than a century later
visited the site and found the sandy paths which marked the Gill's lava-top camp still undisturbed by the Atlantic winds.
posted by penguin pie
on Sep 16, 2004 -
Celestial Atlases are perhaps some of the most beautiful scientific books ever published, capturing the mystery and the grandeur of the heavens, and rife with beautiful and often intimidating interpretations of the constellations. Out Of This World
has been my favorite website since the dawning of time, and one I go back to over and over again even though it never changes. The period from 1603 to 1801 produced the most beautiful star maps, and you don't have to know a thing about astronomy to appreciate how heavenly these are.
posted by iconomy
on Sep 10, 2002 -
Quark Star Observations of two stars, one unusually small and the other unusually cold, have led astronomers to think they are seeing evidence of a new form of matter and a new kind of star, one possibly made of elementary particles known as quarks and denser than any cosmic object other than a black hole.
(NYT link: yada yada) Here's a related link
on neutron stars and quark matter. I rather like the phrase strange quark matter
... Anybody else hear about this?
posted by y2karl
on Apr 11, 2002 -