Seeing stars: the astonishing art of space photography

please note this post is not by Jay Clapp Photography but from the photography news at the guardian for your viewing pleasure please feel free to use the share buttons at the bottom.

A new display at London’s National Maritime Museum makes Time Lords of us all – without us having to leave the ground

This is the age when we crossed the final frontier. This is the moment when human beings became part of the universe. There may never be a better time in the history of space exploration.

Visions of the Universe, an exhibition opening this week at the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich just down the hill from the Royal Observatory, brings together the images that have changed our relationship with the stars and other cosmic objects. In the past two decades, a new kind of ultra-clear, colourful, aesthetically moving astronomical image has brought outer space closer than ever before.

To understand how revolutionary our Hubble age actually is, we have to face reality: the magnificent pictures taken by today’s telescopes of remote spectacles such as the Horsehead Nebula are not preludes to some future trip to see those cosmic wonders up close. They are the trip. Astronomy is the journey.

James T Kirk and Clara Oswald are fantasy figures. Human beings are almost certainly fated to journey beyond our solar system only with our eyes and minds. We are taking that journey right now. It’s a miracle. It also happens to be a universal, democractic miracle, that requires no astronaut training to take part. Everyone has the right stuff to contemplate the stars.

To realise what we are looking at when we do so is to grasp how unlikely it is that human beings will ever sit in a spaceship in a cosmic dust cloud watching the birth of a star. The beautiful Horsehead Nebula, for instance, is about 1,600 light years away. The speed of light is roughly 186,000 miles per second. And it takes light, travelling at that speed, 1,600 years to reach us from the Horsehead Nebula.

Human beings are far away from inventing an engine that can span the vastness of space. There is no such thing as Star Trek’s warp drive – although Nasa is researching the remote possibility. There is definitely no Tardis, however.

This may sound bleak – but I am only saying it to stress the magic of this moment. Fantasies of cosmic journeys are fun, but science fiction must not stop us enjoying science fact. The true exploration of space is happening, it’s here. Robots crawl over Mars, telescopes orbit the Earth, unmanned craft spin towards the sun, all sending information back to Earth that is turned into the most marvellous and profound visual images of our time.

When we look at pictures from the Hubble – or just raise our eyes upwards on a starry night – we are all Time Lords. We are looking at a staggering panorama of time itself. The light from the stars, crossing those distances that it takes so long to cross even at a speed of 186,000 miles per second, is millions of years old by the time it reaches us. The night sky is a vision of the remote past – many pasts. Time twists in multiple immensities as we see the ancient light of stars of different ages.

The true exploration of space is a mental voyage, as it has been since Galileo cast his telescope on the skies. In that journey, the art of astronomy is now travelling at warp speed. © 2013 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds

via Art and design: Photography | Jonathan Jones Thanks for reading Jay


About jayclappphotography

Professional photographer running Feel free to comment and discuss photos

Posted on June 3, 2013, in Photography News and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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