Category Archives: Astronomy

3D Nebula

This has to be one of the coolest GIF’s I’ve ever seen: the Elephant Trunk Nebula IC1396 mapped as a 3D/Lenticular image by J-P Metsavainio. He uses a single image he’s captured and then uses surface modelling software True Space to create these amazing animated GIF.

His astronomical imaging is a true mixture of art, science and technique combined to create these wondrous visions…as he say…“The art part is the most important for me, even though my images are scientifically correct”

Animated GIF of the Nebula  IC 1396 by  J-P Metsavainio ©2013
Animated GIF of the Nebula IC 1396 by J-P Metsavainio ©2013

What J-P Metsavainio has to say about his creation process

Since astronomical objects are too far away, no real parallax can be imaged. So to do that, I have developed a method to turn my images to various 3D-formats. My work flow is based on scientific data from the object, distance and the source of ionization are usually known. The different types of the nebulae has typical structures, pillar like formations must point to the source of ionization, the radiation pressure forms kind of hollow area, inside of the nebula, around newly born stars, dark nebulae must be at front of the emission ones to show, etc…. rest of the missing information is then replaced with an artistic vision.

The whole process is pretty much like sculpting!

I turned the original 2D-image to 3D by using a surface modelling software (TrueSpace).
Image is first divided to layers by its content; each layer is then projected to a 3D-surface. To have good and realistic forms, I did use the software, Bmp2CNC, it converts the shades in the image to a 3D-form. I have semi-automated the whole process, it’ll takes about 20-min. to make a 3D model like in this example is used.

A screen shot from his TrueSpace modeling software.

True Space surface modeling software

All images copyright J-P Metsavainio ©2013 (Click here to see more)

Advertisements

Wave at Saturn

[UPDATED]
I Waved at Saturn and got the Certificate to prove it via NASA

_______________________________________________________

I wasn’t originally going to blog about this because so many others will be doing exactly the same, but its the historical connections and significance this image will convey, it’s based on one of my ‘all time’ favourite photographs, which is not something of great visual merit, but it’s the back story and what those few blue pixels in that image represent, I am of course referring to the famous Pale Blue Dot image taken in 1990 by the Voyager 1 spacecraft from a record distance of about 6 billion kilometers (3.7 billion miles) from Earth, as part of the solar system Family Portrait series of images. The late and still inspiring Carl Sagan commanded by NASA to turn its camera around and to take a photograph of Earth across a great expanse of space.

Now NASA Cassini space is about to do the same and take Pale Blue Dot II on Fri 10:27PM at 22:27 BST… this will be The Day the Earth Smiled and Waved at Saturn

Below is the location of Saturn in the Leeds sky at the precise time Cassini will take this historical photograph…don’t forget to wave 🙂

When you look at that shiny white planet in the Western sky, think back to what Carl Sagan said of that historical day back in 1990 when the original Pale Blue Dot photography was taken.

A Vision of the Human Future in Space

“Look again at that dot. That’s here. That’s home. That’s us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every “superstar,” every “supreme leader,” every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there-on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.

The Earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of this pixel on the scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner, how frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that, in glory and triumph, they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot.

Our posturing, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the Universe, are challenged by this point of pale light. Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity, in all this vastness, there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves.

The Earth is the only world known so far to harbor life. There is nowhere else, at least in the near future, to which our species could migrate. Visit, yes. Settle, not yet. Like it or not, for the moment the Earth is where we make our stand.

It has been said that astronomy is a humbling and character-building experience. There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another, and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we’ve ever known.”

― Carl Sagan, Pale Blue Dot: 

SolSysSim6_final_642x361

What NASA has to say on the subject:

One of the most exciting Cassini events in 2013 will be the unusual opportunity on July 19 to image the whole Saturn system as it is backlit by the sun. With Saturn covering the harsh light of the sun, we will be gathering unique ring science and also catching a glimpse of our very own home planet.

The main science goal for the mosaic we are making of the Saturn system is to look at the more diffuse rings that encircle Saturn and check for change over time. A previous mosaic of the Saturn system Cassini made in 2006 revealed that the dusty E ring, which is fed by the water-ice plume of the moon Enceladus, had unexpectedly large variations in brightness and color around its orbit. We’ll want to see how that looks seven Earth years and a Saturnian season later, giving us clues to the forces at work in the Saturn system. We’ll do this analysis by collecting data from our visual and infrared mapping spectrometer, composite infrared mapping spectrometer and ultraviolet imaging spectrograph in addition to the imaging cameras.

But one of the best parts of the mosaic we’re making on July 19 is that we’ll be able to take a picture of Earth – and all of you — from about 898 million miles (1.44 billion kilometers) away. The Earth will appear to be just a pixel, but you can see in this simulated close-up what parts of it will be illuminated.

Opportunities to image Earth from the outer solar system are few and far between and special care must be taken so we don’t blind our cameras by looking in the direction of the sun, where Earth is. There have been only two images of Earth from the outer solar system in all the time humankind has been venturing out into space. The first and most distant was one was taken 23 years ago by NASA’s Voyager 1 spacecraft from 4 billion miles (6 billion kilometers away), showing Earth as a pale blue dot . The other opportunity was Cassini’s image in 2006 from 926 million miles (1.49 billion kilometers).

Orion in Oxygen

Orion Nebula in Oxygen, Hydrogen, and Sulphur (British English spelling)

Image Credit & Copyright: César Blanco González

Some astronomical sights really excite my imagination, none more so than the nearby stellar nursery known as The Orion Nebula, which was stunningly captured by César Blanco González.

APOD Explanation: 

The Orion Nebula‘s glowing gas surrounds hot young stars at the edge of an immense interstellar molecular cloud. Many of the filamentary structures visible in the above image are actually shock waves – fronts where fast-moving material encounters slow-moving gas. The Orion Nebula spans about 40 light years and is located about 1500 light years away in the same spiral arm of our Galaxy as the Sun. The Great Nebula in Orion can be found with the unaided eye just below and to the left of the easily identifiable belt of three stars in the popular constellation Orion. The above image shows the nebula in three colors specifically emitted by hydrogenoxygen, and sulphur (British English spelling) gas. The whole Orion Nebula cloud complex, which includes the Horsehead Nebula, will slowly disperse over the next 100,000 years.

Science and Typography

What a wonderful series of typographical ‘minimalist’ posters in aid of Science Day in India that Kapil Bhagat has created to commemorate famous Astronomers and Scientist, such a simple but very effective creative idea and execution.

All images © Kapil Bhagat 2013

The Hunger Moon


After what has been another cloudy month with little or no viewing of the moon, it was only on its final days that I manged to capture the February Full Moon. This is traditionally called the Full Snow Moon by the native tribes of the north and east because of the usually heavy snow falls in February, but for me the name some American tribes referred to this Moon that I like the most is The Hunger Moon, namely because of the harsh weather conditions in their area that made hunting very difficult

These are just two of the Full Moon Names for February, but as you can see from below the list goes on…

  • Colonial American Trapper’s Moon
  • Chinese Budding Moon
  • American Indian (Cherokee) Bone Moon
  • American Indian (Choctaw) Little Famine Moon
  • American Indian (Dakota Sioux) Moon of the Raccoon, Moon When Trees Pop
  • Celtic Moon of Ice
  • English Medieval Storm Moon
  • Neo Pagan Snow Moon
  • Micmac people in eastern Canada Snow-blinding Moon
  • San Ildefonso of the Southwest Wind Moon
  • Kutenai of the Northwest Blackbear Moon

February full moon can assume any number of different names, and the list could go on and on the further I dig into the history of Full Moon Names, maybe I’ll show more when the Storm Moon of March 2013 appears… or as some call it The Death Moon