the grey unknown
was acceptable for so long.
but as we approach,
color leaks in.
Science has this wonderful feature. When you use an instrument that gives a difference view, you are often rewarded with with new beauty and puzzles. The Hubble Space Telescope was one of those dramatic leaps in instrumentation. It came during a period when several other instruments greatly expanded our view of the Solar System and deep space, but the beauty of its images resonated. As sometimes happens, science and art were clearly linked in the public imagination.
Remarkably it turned 25 yesterday. No one seriously thought it would last 15 years. In the beginning few thought it would be built. Funding only came as one of the justifications to save NASA's shuttle program and the shuttle was used as a justification for it. The basic design was somewhat linked to state of the art spy telescopes - just turned around the other way with cameras suitable for astronomy. There were major problems at many steps along the way, but when it finally started doing astronomy doing astronomy something special happened.
A series of images has appeared to celebrate the anniversary. They're beautiful and you probably saw some on the news yesterday or can find them with a bit of searching.
I was more taken with another set of images from a decade back..
In 2002 star exploded about 20,000 light years away in the constellation Monoceros. At first it appeared to be a normal nova fading as expected. But about a month later it suddenly brightened again and followed by a third very bright burst that briefly made it about a million times as luminous as the Sun. Something very strange was going on and the Hubble began a series of regular photographs to record the light curve over time.
V838 Mono (names usually lack the poetry they deserve) remains a very curious object. that came with an unexpected light show..
The bright flash from a nova or supernova creates an expanding shell of light. A tiny bit of it travels directly to the observer, but most of it travels in a different directions and can reflect from clouds of dust and gas near the exploding star. These reflections can make their way back to the observer, but their paths are longer than the direct route so they arrive later. They are echoes of light
The conditions were approximately wonderful. For several years light that had initially traveled away from us lit up the clouds of gas and dust surrounding the star. Over the space of a few years new parts of the cloud where made visible. A series of eight images were taken over a four year period. They were morphed into a very beautiful animation.
Here's the link - pick a larger file size if you have a fast enough link and go full screen on a big monitor.
and a unicorn? Monoceros is unicorn in Greek.
The swiss chard looked good last week. This one is really simple and quick - modify away.
Sautéed Swiss Chard
° about 2 tbl olive oil
° 2 cloves of garlic, smashed
° about 1 tbl red pepper flakes
° a bunch of swiss chard. remove and chop the ribs. chop the leaves roughly
° kosher salt
° red wine vinegar
° bring the olive up to medium heat in a large pan
° add the garlic and pepper flakes - sauté until the garlic takes a golden color. throw out the garlic
° add the chopped chard ribs and sauté until soft
° add the chard leaves and season with salt. Cook until they wilt.
° add the vinegar and serve