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The Big Dipper - and a weird sentence.

I am back at telling stories and this is the cover of the first of hopefully many stories to come:

"Everybody says I’m a genius!"

A foul-mouthed 17-year-old prodigy student and mankind’s hubris…

Check it out at

#space #science #storytelling #perception #human

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One of the most common traps for scientists to fall into when exploring new grounds is the idea that beauty is an indication of truth.

Whether it's Hellenic philosophers who elevated this idea to a principle or String Theorists producing "one-inch equations" to describe the universe, we have been and are humans.

We like beautiful things as well as beautiful ideas.

Credit: +European Southern Observatory (ESO)
Adaptation: A. Biebricher

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(Adapted from Carl Sagan's "Pale Blue Dot")

Look again at that dot. That's there. That's their home. That's them. On a planet around that dot everyone they love, everyone they know, everyone they ever heard of, everyone of them who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of their joy and suffering, thousands of confident ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every "superstar," every "supreme leader," every saint and sinner in the history of their species lived there - on a mote of dust suspended in a strand of terrestrial aurora.

That star and the planets around it are a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of this pixel on the scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner, how frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that, in glory and triumph, they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot.

Their posturings, their imagined self-importance, the delusion that they have some privileged position in the universe, are challenged by this point of pale light. That star is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In their obscurity, in all this vastness, there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save them from themselves.

That one particular planet around that star is only one of two worlds known so far to harbor life. The other one is too far away. There is nowhere else, at least in the near future, to which their species could migrate. Visit, yes. Settle, not yet. Like it or not, for the moment this is where they make their stand.

It has been said that astronomy is a humbling and character-building experience. There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of their tiny star. Their world we cannot even perceive. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another, and to preserve and cherish our own pale blue dot, the only home that humans, we, have ever known.

#space #science #cosmos #universe #stars #home #life

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This map of our Milky Way has been generated from data obtained by ESA's Gaia mission.

Randomly selecting 18.6 million stars is one thing. Have you made yourself conscious of the color scale on the right-hand side and what it denotes?

Number of sources/pixel = "number of stars per pixel". Maximum of 5000 stars per pixel in this image.

Science plots can be sneakily awesome - in all senses of that word. :) Date: 16 August 2017

Satellite: Gaia
Depicts: Star density map
Copyright: ESA/Gaia/DPAC/CU5/DPCI/CU8/F. De Angeli, D.W. Evans, M. Riello, M. Fouesneau, R. Andrae, C.A.L. Bailer-Jones
Found at :

+European Space Agency, ESA

#space #science #stars #technology #tech #spacetech #human #satellite #gaia #milkyway #galaxy #universe #map #esa #astronomy

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Nature can be so awesome - in the elder sense of that word.

These are aurorae, photographed by my son at Fiskenes in Andøya, Norway.

They remind me of the fact that Earth has a magnetic field. They remind me of the fact that without its magnetic field Earth would be a larger version of Mars, dry and cold and, presumably, lifeless.

One can study them for a lifetime and still be in awe!

I get why people say they dance in the sky; but there is so much more to them! Read just a little about them. What needs to happen for them to be there?

Telling people northern lights dance is like saying that the ocean gets wetter when you cry into it. :)

#earth #space #aurora #northernlights #science #Andøy #photography #nature #naturephotography

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A white, milky cloud on a dark background.

I realised I had become a scientist when I looked at such an image and got all giddy about it. This is the "coma" surrounding a comet called C/2017 K2 PANSTARRS, the farthest active comet which we have ever observed. At the time of observation it was around 2.5 billion kilometres from the Sun.

In order to truly understand the greatness of what you see here you have to realize the many hours of work of countless scientists calculating, devising experiments and analysing data in order to get to the point where we could understand what we see.

The image was taken by the Hubble Space Telescope in 2017, an instrument that was built by engineers and technicians who themselves merged all the knowledge of those who came before them with their own. Not to speak of the fact, that the instrument is a satellite in orbit around Earth.

You see, no matter how you want to look at this image, at the science, the tech of the telescope, or the logistics of getting the experiment into space, one thing is for sure:
Knowledge, of one form or another has made this image possible.

Source: +NASA , +European Space Agency, ESA, and D. Jewitt (UCLA) / (modified by A. Biebricher)

#space #comet #hubbletelescope #science #stem #technology #human #astronomy #spacetech ##astrophysics #human #knowledge

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The world is turning into shades of brown, at least in the temperate climate zones of the Northern hemisphere. I find the colours beautiful, both when being out there and after coming home looking at the images I took.

I would like to claim this image to be something I wanted to achieve. I would like to tell you about how the fuzziness of it all fits the melancholic mood of autumn in the North, and I how I find to have encapsulated the spirit of it all.

I cannot, of course. That photograph and the way it turned out in detail was about as unintentional as it gets - and I don't mind admitting it at all. :)

#earth #Andøy #Andenes #nature #planet #naturephotography #landscape #landscapephotography #landscape_captures #life

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Some images simply leave me speechless.

Here, you have part of what I consider to be a wonder of human technology, one of those humongous, yet super-accurate optical instruments with which we can look out to the stars. In the background you can see a bit of our own galaxy.


If there is one thing which takes the image down a notch it's the knowledge that those lasers are there to eradicate physical phenomena in the atmosphere rather than studying them.

You know me, I had to write that. ;)

Source: Y. Beletsky (LOO)/ESO - -

#space #scicomm #science #eso #universe #cosmos #laser #telescope #awesome #vlt #technology #human +European Southern Observatory (ESO)

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Rohrschach test for atmosphere physicists: Do you manage to imagine something in this cloud?

Yes, the dynamics of the air flow. It’s awesome, to be quite honest. You know, normally clouds are driven past you by the wind, but this is a structure the wind flows straight through. Underlying the whole process is a low pressure volume just sitting there, condensing the water in air that comes in and evaporating it on the way out again.

The only way that would be possible is, strangely, by air moving very fast, say, within a pressure wave. Sound is a form of pressure wave. That cloud—

I’ll stop at this point. Not because I fear boring you, but because I fear I won’t be bored by this myself for a looong time…

#clouds #cloud #cloudscape #earth #science #nature #naturephotography #naturelovers #physics #atmosphere #Andøya #norway #lookup

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The "Pale Blue Dot" - do you remember that image by one of the Voyager probes?

Alright, you don't have to be as old as I am. But, do you know of this image? It was taken in 1990, when astronomer and science communicator Carl Sagan asked NASA to turn around the probe and take one last picture of Earth before it went off into the outer solar system. That little white pixel in the right-hand beam is not a camera artefact.

It's Earth.

Which brings me to a remarkable encounter from only two days ago, about a couple of hours after I had finished the collage and started writing this text. On behalf of my employer, I welcomed the Canadian ambassador to Norway to Andøya Space Center and NAROM. On the way from the entry hall to the meeting room he casually told me how he uses Cassini's 2013-version of this image in his presentations to make a point about perspective and human behaviour towards each other.

It's a powerful visual.

Zooming in only underlines that fact. In the upper left-hand corner you find an image of that dot, taken at 1.5 million kilometres distance.

I am pretty sure Carl Sagan would have liked to see his image being used as symbol for peace and collaboration. In fact, I believe that was his intention.

Does that message hit home with you?

Source information:
Pale Blue Dot: NASA/PD
Inlet: NASA EPIC Team/PD/

+Spaceship Aurora
+Andoya Space Center
+NAROM (Norwegian Centre for Space-related Education)

#earth #space #planet #human #perspective #canada #norway #palebluedot
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