Cosmic Cliffs Infinite Galaxy Puzzle Features New Imagery from the James Webb Space Telescope
This week, the first images from NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope amazed and daunted us with their inordinately deep looks at the cosmos, particularly the shot of the glimmering star-forming region known as the “Cosmic Cliffs” of the Carina Nebula. The team over at the Catskills-based studio Nervous System translated this galactic masterpiece into a new, similarly expansive infinity puzzle intended to be tiled continuously, with no predetermined shape, start, or end. Similar to its other designs, this iteration includes four whimsy cuts in the shape of an astronaut, a shooting star, a satellite, and the gold mirrors of the groundbreaking telescope itself. Try your hand at puzzling together distant galaxies by picking up the 264-piece jigsaw from the Nervous System shop.
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NASA’s Webb Space Telescope Reveals Astounding, Unprecedented Views of the Universe
NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope unveiled its first-ever collection of high-resolution color images capturing an exceptional amount of detail about the universe. The instrument reaches deeper into the cosmos than any before.
Launched in December, Webb is the world’s largest and most powerful observer with the ability to view cosmic bodies like the atmospheres of exoplanets, or those outside our solar system, and some of the first galaxies to emerge following the Big Bang 13.5 billion years ago. The telescope is equipped with a host of near-infrared tools that will help visualize galactic phenomena and celestial bodies that are otherwise invisible to the human eye. Webb is capable of getting four times closer to the cosmological event than the Hubble Space Telescope, which helps scientists better understand how the universe has evolved since.
Preparation for the mission began in the 1990s, and the 6.7-ton telescope is currently focused on documenting planetary evolution and spectroscopic data about their chemical makeup, which involves targeting five cosmic objects: the gassy planet WASP-96 b that’s about 1,150 light-years away, the Southern Ring Nebula, Stephan’s Quintet galaxy, the SMACS 0723 galaxy clusters, and the 7,600 light-years away Carina Nebula with enormous stars that dwarf the sun.
The very first images include a stunning composite of SMACS 0723 as it appeared 4.6 billion years ago. Rich with glimmering galaxies, the composite comprises “a patch of sky approximately the size of a grain of sand held at arm’s length by someone on the ground,” administrators said in a statement. There’s also the mesmerizing Southern Ring Nebula, which is comprised of shells of dust and gas released by two dying stars, and Stephen’s Quintet, five glowing galaxies captured in Webb’s largest composite to date, reaching a size that would span approximately one-fifth of the moon’s diameter.
Perhaps the most stunning image from the first release of visuals is that of the star-forming region in the Carina Nebula, which shows what researchers refer to as “cosmic cliffs,” or what appears to be rugged, mountain-like forms that are actually the edges of immense gaseous activity. The tallest pinnacles of that celestial body are about seven light-years high.
Webb was designed to spend the next decade in space, however, a successful launch preserved substantial fuel, and NASA now anticipates a trove of insights about the universe for the next twenty years. Follow its movements with NASA’s tracker, Where is Webb?
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Brilliant Phenomena and Galactic Skies Light Up the 2022 Astronomy Photographer of the Year Shortlist
Whether in the form of nebulae or starry galactic expanses, natural light continues to dominate Royal Museums Greenwich’s Astronomy Photographer of the Year competition (previously). The 14th annual contest garnered more than 3,000 submissions from 67 countries, and a shortlist of finalists contains stunning shots of a September harvest moon illuminating Glastonbury Tor, the brilliant streaks trailing Comet Leonard, and the vibrant Aurora Borealis casting an ominous glow above a battered ship in Westfjords.
Winning photos will be announced on September 15 with an exhibition opening at the National Maritime Museum on September 17. Until then, peruse the full collection on the Royal Museum Greenwich site.
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Stars and Comets Shimmer in Juha Tanhua’s Galactic Photos of Parking Lot Oil Spills
In this collection of cosmic photographs, comets, nebulas, and galaxies stretch before the human eye, showering the sky in glittering scenes that ought to be from a telescope. But instead of looking upward into the night, Finnish photographer Juha Tanhua points his camera to the ground. He documents his “oil paintings” in broad daylight, shooting gasoline and oil spills usually found in car parks. “I don’t look up, but down,” he tells Colossal. “It’s not space above us; it’s space under our feet. You can find subjects to photograph even in dull places like parking lots. Expect nothing, get everything.”
The photographer first got his idea for the gasoline puddles when noticing an oil spill next to his car. “It looked a little bit like the northern lights,” he says. He forgot about the image, which he named “Urban Aurora Borealis,” until finding it months later when organizing an archive. After that, when walking around parking lots after heavy rain, he began to notice more leaks and started to document them. He now has hundreds in his collection. “I named them oil paintings,” he says. “Because it looked like artworks under cars.”
Tanhua likens rain to a brush, which “paints the artwork” and is an essential component in ensuring the stains don’t fade in the dry summer. Once captured, he plays with the exposure, editing the highlights, shadows, and contrasts of each image to gain the appearance of galactic matter from a combination of the oil patterns and the ground’s rough texture.“When I shoot against black asphalt and underexpose the image, the rocks on the asphalt turn into stars,” he explains.
Currently living in the small village of Vuolenkoski, near Lahti in Southern Finland, Tanhua obtained his first camera at age 15, when his father gifted him an Olympus 35 DC compact model that he purchased while working in Japan. In 1979, Tanhua began an apprenticeship at a local studio, which launched subsequent careers in journalism and later freelance photography. His works are now included in collections within the Finnish National Gallery and Lahti Art Museum. You can find more of his photos on his website. (via Peta Pixel)
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A Stunning Photo Documents the Colorful Comet Leonard Streaking Through the Nighttime Sky
Set against a star-studded backdrop, Comet Leonard, aka the Chrismas Comet, blazed overhead on December 26, emitting a colorful stream of light that illuminated the dark skies. Andrew McCarthy (previously) documented the celestial body as it hurtled over the Arizona horizon and created this striking, magnified composite of 25 separate shots. The image, along with a wider photo shown below, captures the brilliant colors surrounding the nucleus as it flies 150,000 miles per hour through space. Comet Leonard was first spotted about 466 million miles away on January 3, 2021, and is making its closest pass to the sun exactly one year later, before it’s expelled from our solar system entirely.
McCarthy details his 12-minute process for documenting the body on PetaPixel—watch this clip to see how far the comet moved during that period—and explore his wide range of astrophotography on Instagram and his site, where he also sells prints.
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An Astronaut Steers an Elaborately Constructed Paper Spaceship in a Window Display by Zim & Zou
Equipped with joysticks and panels of gauges and knobs, an intricately constructed spaceship built by Zim & Zou (previously) navigates through a starry expanse of whimsical planets and alien creatures. The pink-and-blue craft, which was designed as a window display for Hermès, is the latest project from the French artists, whose elaborate scenes and characters are constructed from precisely cut paper sculptures. This fantastical work, titled “Journey of a Lifetime,” peers over the adventurous protagonist, who traverses an unknown world amidst a chaotic scene of levers, monitors, and tea that’s flung into the air of the weightless environment. You can see details from the installation and more of Zim & Zou’s work on Behance and Instagram.
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Editor's Picks: Animation
Highlights below. For the full collection click here.