Cathrin Machin, Sydney based deep space oil painter and artist

Friday, 4 August, 2017

Artwork by Cathrin Machin

I often feature photos of the night sky. Images that include the visible part of our galaxy, the Milky Way, in particular, are a favourite. So no one will be surprised then to see this photo, by Cathrin Machin posted here. But wait, this isn’t a photo, this is a painting, by the Sydney based deep space oil painter and artist. Incredible, don’t you think?

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Les Morales, Southern California based photographer

Monday, 31 July, 2017

Photo by Les Morales

Surf, nature, travel, and the night sky are among the subjects of Southern California based photographer Les Morales.

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When you get caught between the Milky Way and Sao Paulo

Tuesday, 2 May, 2017

Sales Wick is a pilot with Swiss International Air Lines, and recently filmed this spectacular footage of the Milky Way galaxy during part of a night flight between Zurich and São Paulo.

Look out also for the part, at about one minute and fifteen seconds in, I think, where they turn the craft’s landing lights on to greet pilots in a nearby aircraft.

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The Earth and Moon from between the rings of Saturn

Tuesday, 25 April, 2017

Earth from Saturn, by Cassini, via NASA

Here’s a view you don’t see every day, Earth, and the Moon – the very faint dot to the left of Earth – as seen from between gaps in the rings of outer planet, Saturn.

This will be one the last batch of images from the Cassini space probe, before it is set on a collision course with the ringed planet. See a larger version of the photo here.

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Are aliens altering a star’s light spectrum so the universe can see them?

Wednesday, 19 April, 2017

Broadcast signals, radio and television for instance, might be one way an extraterrestrial intelligence could go about advertising its presence. For all the perils of doing so, of course.

The thing with regular broadcast signals though, is they degrade the further they move from their source. Ideas that any inhabitants of any planets orbiting Regulus – a star eighty light years distant – may be able to tune into TV shows first broadcast on Earth eighty years ago are fanciful, to put it mildly.

How then to tell the rest of the universe you’re there, if signal degradation is a concern? Altering the light spectrum of your host star may be a possibility.

Przybylski’s Star is about three hundred and seventy light years from the Sun, but its optical spectrum is baffling astronomers, on account of the presence of certain heavy elements that should not be there.

The star is laced with oddball elements like europium, gadolinium, terbium and holmium. Moreover, while iron and nickel appear in unusually low abundances, we get short-lived ultra-heavy elements, actinides like actinium, plutonium, americium and einsteinium. Hence the mystery: How can such short-lived elements persist in the atmosphere of a star?

How indeed? Some people have speculated that an alien intelligence is somehow adding in these unusual elements, as a way of drawing attention to themselves. It all sounds a bit complicated though. Why don’t they make a few TV shows, and broadcast them on a strong signal, instead?

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The night sky in five million years, wait around, see if it isn’t so…

Tuesday, 18 April, 2017

Do you enjoy watching paint dry?

If so, you’re going to love this animation, depicting the movements of stars in the night sky, or our view of the Milk Way, over the next five million years. Except, it’s not like watching paint dry, with five million years uncoiling over about four minutes, it is quite absorbing.

Unlike several thousand years, five million years is a little more than a blip in terms of cosmic timescales, and it’s interesting to see how the appearance of the Milky Way, or what we can see of it, alters significantly.

I wonder if there’ll be people around in five million years to see how things actually turn out?

Via Bad Astronomy.

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Seven places in the galaxy where we might, find extraterrestrial life

Monday, 3 April, 2017

Seven places in the universe, or more the point, Milky Way galaxy, where alien life may exist. Three of these places are within the solar system. Another is about four light years away, and another two have been the subject of much media interest in recent times. One place, the seventh one, I’d not heard of until now.

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Make Pluto great again, but not every other dwarf planet there is

Thursday, 23 March, 2017

Nearly eleven years after losing its status as a fully-fledged planet of the solar system, dwarf planet Pluto stands to be reinstated to the big league. But it won’t be alone. Another one hundred bodies, orbiting the Sun, many of them likewise dwarf planets, stand to be upgraded.

Were this to happen, the size of the solar system, in terms of the number of planets it has, would swell. Instead of the current eight planets, there would be one hundred and two. I don’t know about you, but that seems excessive.

When Pluto was relegated to dwarf planet status, I, like many others, wasn’t happy about it. But now it seems quite reasonable. Pluto, for instance, is only seventy percent the size of the Moon, and just under twenty percent the size of Earth. Referring to it as a planet seems absurd.

On the other hand, dwarf planet isn’t much of a designation either. Perhaps we need to rethink the way bodies of the solar system are classified all together? My suggestion, keep the eight planets of the solar system as they are, and consider anything smaller than Mercury, a “member”.

On reflection though, that will probably only create yet more problems, and disagreement. Instead, let’s reinstate Pluto as a planet, a honourary planet, since for a long time it was always regarded as such. Then reserve labels like dwarf planet to bodies discovered after Pluto.

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The fire like fractal artworks of Dennis Suhonosov

Thursday, 9 March, 2017

Artwork by Dennis Suhonosov

Playing with fire is not to be recommended, but for Russian artist Dennis Suhonosov, creating fire like fractal artworks has been worth the risk. So what is it we are looking at here? A flower? The surface of a star? A galaxy? Or something else all together? That’s the great thing about this work, we can make up our own minds here.

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Planets, moons, and stars, made to order by the Little Planet Factory

Wednesday, 8 March, 2017

Jupiter, Earth, Saturn models by Little Planet Factory

Astronomy geeks will love this, 3D printed models of the planets, and moons, of the solar system, made by George Ioannidis of the Little Planet Factory. Above is an image of Earth posing with Jupiter, and a sans-rings Saturn.

You can also order the Sun. And the three stars of the Alpha Centauri, and Proxima Centauri system, our nearest neighbours in interstellar space. Or the Moon. Or Mars, when it once had oceans. And much more.

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