Jill Tarter: A young science in an old universe

Writing something on astronomy for Spotlight (dort Englischlernen). Ever since, as a child, I sat gazing at the August night sky on Drummond Island with those “10 to the 22” (=10 hoch 22) stars above me, I’ve always loved them. Isn’t it marvellous to think that what you see up there is history, fossilized astronomy, that what you see is sparkling at you from the past? I thoroughly enjoyed this talk by Jill Tarter (thank you, twittering thebirdsword !)

It’s the 400th anniversary of of Gallileo’s first use of the telescope, and the 50th year of SETI – the search for extraterrestrial intelligence – as a science. And the Kepler Mission, seeking planets similar to Earth, is due to launch on 6 March.

The Eagle Nebula

Today is the big day. To celebrate a president we can be proud of and who allows us to dream of a more humane world, have a look at the beautiful Eagle Nebula, described as follows:

From afar, the whole thing looks like an Eagle. A closer look at the Eagle Nebula, however, shows the bright region is actually a window into the center of a larger dark shell of dust. Through this window, a brightly-lit workshop appears where a whole open cluster of stars is being formed. In this cavity tall pillars and round globules of dark dust and cold molecular gas remain where stars are still forming. Already visible are several young bright blue stars whose light and winds are burning away and pushing back the remaining filaments and walls of gas and dust. The Eagle emission nebula, tagged M16, lies about 6500 light years away, spans about 20 light-years, and is visible with binoculars toward the constellation of Serpens. (Robert Nemiroff (MTU) & Jerry Bonnell (USRA)

Bright blue stars, do your work! (Image: NASA)