Hot on the heels of their new and improved Pillars of Creation image, NASA just published a new photo that appears to be the largest happy face in existence. The eyes alone are two different galaxies, SDSSCGB 8842.3 and SDSSCGB 8842.4, and the smile is an optical illusion caused by something called strong gravitational lensing, a phenomenon where the gravitational pull of an object is so powerful it causes spacetime to warp, effectively distorting the light around it. You can read more about it over on Hubble’s website. (via Hubble)
The team over at Zurich-based Schönstaub released this great series of rugs and bath towels adorned with various photos of nebulae. The the 100% cotton towels are available through their shop and the rugs appear to be made to order. (via This Isn’t Happiness)
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.
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)
In her ongoing series of figurative sculptures titled Milky Ways, artist Mihoko Ogaki explores ideas of life, death, and rebirth. The dead or dying human forms are constructed from Fibre-reinforced plastic and embedded with bright LEDs that when lit project fields of light resembling stars in the surrounding space. You can see many more installation views over on her website. (via mori yu gallery)
French photographer Stephane Vetter captured this outstanding time-lapse of the night sky using a Sigma 8 mm fisheye lens, meaning that what you see in the video is a true representation of the entire visible sky. Titled Leonid and Zodiacal Light, the brief but jaw-dropping clip was shot November 17th of this year and includes a five-hour star trail and Vetter even takes time to label signifiant stars and other objects visible in the sky. Make sure you watch it full-screen.