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Saturday, March 15, 2008

The Beautiful Sky

Isn't the night sky just beautiful!

Astronomy has always been near-and-dear to my heart. In school it was my favorite subject, and I always excelled whenever the subject was taught in class. I remember when my dad bought me my first (and sadly my only) telescope. He had bought it for me in a yard sale, ever since then I've become a nerd! Star charts, planets, moons, nebulae, galaxies, the Universe, I've studied them all and even today, I'm always up-to-date with recent discoveries, new theories, and anything related to astronomy.

The picture you see on the top of my blog, as my header, is a composite picture of the Helix Nebula taken with two different telescopes; one being The Hubble space telescope, and the other being an earthbound telescope called the Mosaic II.

The reason I chose this image was because it was one of the first things that I saw as a kid that attracted me to the night sky, and henceforth made me into a geek. The beautiful colors and shapes of the nebulae always made me gasp! These nebulae are incredibly beautiful unfortunately, the colors of the nebulae are not really true.


The Hubble telescope has many filters that can detect all wavelengths of light, including lights that are invisible to our eyes, such as infrared. The images that the Hubble snaps are beamed down to earth in Black and White (more like shades of gray). When combining all collected data, (light wavelengths) scientists begin to "color" the image, and at times assigning a color to the wavelengths that are invisible to us. Many vivify the colors and/or replace the colors to distinguish all the different elements that are in the nebula, or bring out the details. This means that if you were to look for a nebula in the night sky with a decent deeps space telescope, you would probably see "pasty" blue green, and maybe even red nebulae, which is quite disappointing for those amateur astronomers that look at a nebula with their own eyes for the first time.

To be fair, scientists say that the colors you see on the images would be what we would see were near the nebulae and our eyes were as sensitive as the Hubble's lens...gee!

Here is a high resolution image from NASA of the beautiful Helix Nebula:


1 comment:

Steve Ballmer said...

Interesting indeed!

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