One of six astronauts currently on board the International Space Station, geophysicist Alexander Gerst spends much of his free time staring out the window as the world zooms by 205 miles below, camera in-hand. Since arriving at the ISS in June of this year Gerst has taken tons of photographs that document hurricanes, floods, dust storms, and oil fields.
One of his favorite things to shoot are the shadows cast by clouds, something that appears surprisingly dramatic from space. Dense cloud formations can create long shadows that stretch for thousands of miles across the Earth’s surface as they eventually disappear into a black horizon. You can see new photos from Gerst daily on Twitter. (via Stellar)
In a novel intersection of fashion and science, New York-based Slow Factory is utilizing imagery from NASA to create lines of translucent scarves. Their most recent collection, Cities by Night, is a series scarves imprinted with imagery of London, New York, and Paris captured at night from satellites and aboard the International Space Station. A second collection, Floating in Space, includes several breathtaking photographs of various nebulae captured by the Hubble. Slow Factory was founded by designer Celine Semaan Vernon, a native of Beirut who now lives and works in New York City. Several of their pieces are now available in the Colossal Shop.
Last week Japanese botanic artist Makoto Azuma attempted to go where most artists only dream of going: to space. In a project titled Exbiotanica, last week Azuma and his crew traveled to Black Rock Desert outside Gerlach, Nevada. In the dead of night Azuma’s project began. The team launched two of Azuma’s artworks – a 50-year old pine suspended from a metal frame and an arrangement of flowers – into the stratosphere using a large helium balloon. The entire project was documented, revealing some surreal photographs of plants floating above planet earth. “The best thing about this project is that space is so foreign to most of us,” says John Powell of JP Aerospace. “So seeing a familiar object like a bouquet of flowers flying above Earth domesticates space, and the idea of traveling into it.” (syndicated from Spoon & Tamago)
This amazing composite image taken by NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory (Little SDO) shows a series of significant solar eruptions that occurred over a period of three days back in January of 2013. The photo was created using three wavelengths of light that have been colorized in red, green, and blue to better show the dynamics of each eruption. You can read more about solar scientist Nathalia Alzate’s findings regarind the event over on this Facebook post. (via This Isn’t Happiness)
Michigan-based photographer Vincent Brady uses an elaborate 4-camera rig and lots of software to capture what he calls Planetary Panoramas. These are somewhat similar to the tinyplanet videos we’ve seen the last few months, but the results are quite a bit more dramatic. He shares about his technique:
While experimenting with different photography tricks and techniques back in 2012, I was shooting 360 degree panoramas in the daytime and long exposures of the stars streaking in the sky at night. It suddenly became clear that the potential to combine the two techniques could be a trip! Since the Earth is rotating at a steady 1,040 mph I created a custom rig of 4 cameras with fisheye lenses to capture the entire night-sky in motion. Thus the images show the stars rotating around the north star as well as the effect of the southern pole as well and a 360 degree panorama of the scene on Earth. Each camera is doing nonstop long exposures, typically about 1 minute consecutively for the life of the camera battery. Usually about 3 hours. I then made a script to stitch all the thousands of these panoramas into this time-lapse.
This recently released photograph from the Hubble Telescope captures the spectacular glory of Messier 15 located about 35,000 light-years away. It might be hard to believe, but if you were to look up in the sky and locate the constellation Pegasus, this entire cluster of stars is located inside of it. It is one of the densest clusters of stars ever discovered. Via the ESA:
Both very hot blue stars and cooler golden stars can be seen swarming together in the image, becoming more concentrated towards the cluster’s bright centre. Messier 15 is one of the densest globular clusters known, with most of its mass concentrated at its core. As well as stars, Messier 15 was the first cluster known to host a planetary nebula, and it has been found to have a rare type of black hole at its centre.
Growing up in the Texas hill country, I lived next door to an astronomy buff from the the Austin Astronomical Society named Larry Forrest. Every couple of months Larry would have a thing called a star party and all these other astronomy people would show up with giant pickup trucks hauling telescopes mounted on trailers. Sometimes the group would start drinking as the sun went down and by the time the first stars started twinkling they had a pretty good buzz going. It was a loud, drunken astronomy night, and it was amazing.
On a few occasions I had the opportunity to stay up late and head over to Larry’s place and climb inside this huge observatory he’d built that housed the largest telescope I’ve ever had the chance of looking through. I remember seeing the rings of Saturn for the first time, and seeing details of the moon so vivid it felt like I could touch it. There are few things that put life in perspective as astronomy can. It was a precious early gift and the sole reason you see occasional posts like these here on Colossal. Unfortunately I learned that Larry died last year, and seeing this image reminded of my first peek inside his telescope, and the near instant realization of how vast the universe really is. Shine on Larry. (via Astronomy Picture of the Day)
You might remember earlier this summer when NASA released a striking image taken by the Cassini spacecraft of Earth as it appears from the dark side of Saturn. Yesterday the space agency wowed again with the first ever photograph of Saturn, Mars, Venus, and Earth all in the same shot. The image spans about 404,880 miles (651,591 kilometers) across and is made from 141 wide-angle photos taken by Cassini. You can learn more about the image over on JPL’s site where you can even download some wallpapers. This is a good excuse to watch an interpretation of Carl Sagan’s Pale Blue Dot monologue. Or this one. (via PetaPixel)