Sunday, June 18, 2006

Out of this world

click photo to enlarge
I think I can say, with some degree of certainty, that, unless I'm abducted by aliens, I'll never go into space! Wrong nationality, wrong education, wrong job and wrong age. And yet, I'd love to leave this planet for a short time, if only to fully experience the feeling you must get that our world is but a small dot in the infinity of the universe. However, space travel isn't the only way to approach this feeling. I remember first getting that awareness many years ago when I decided to turn my bird watcher's telescope on the night sky.

With Norton's Star Atlas by my side I spent many happy winter evenings finding my way round the stars, planets and galaxies. I began with Orion and moved out to Cassiopeia, Ursa Major, the Pole Star and the rest of the constellations of the northern sky. I found Jupiter and saw its red spot and four of its moons, and was thrilled to see Saturn's rings tilted at an angle. Over the next several months I carefully tracked down the other planets, and was particularly struck by the early morning crescent of Venus. Then it was on to the Messier objects, the fuzzy (in my telescope) galaxies, globular clusters and nebulae that were mapped and numbered by the French astronomer, Charles Messier, in 1774. Though my telescope only had an objective lens of 60mm and a magnification ranging from 15X up to 60X, it proved, along with my binoculars, good enough to help me get a basic understanding of the night sky. And with that understanding came the feeling of the vastness of space, and the cosmic insignificance of our earth.

The "otherworldly" quality of this image prompted that train of thought - it could be a view from a future space station, looking down at clouds over the ocean. In fact, the main subject is merely a part of a very large mirror ball on the promenade at Blackpool, Lancashire. I've taken several photographs of this art work, including this previous blog entry, but the structure so invites the camera that I rarely pass it without adding another shot to my collection. Different light and different skies give different effects. The sharp mosaic reflections of the promenade and the deep blue and white of the early morning sky promped this shot. Post processing was restricted to the application of Auto Levels which gave added "punch" to the colours.
photograph & text (c) T. Boughen