After many years of blogging, and consistent with my desire to move toward retirement, we have ended the Insights blog. Thanks to Doug Bedell for his years of blog support.

Seeing Far Into the Heavens

Posted on January 4, 2011
Filed Under Technology | Leave a Comment

We thought we’d start the new year with something truly awesome. So here’s a photo of  a section of the Eagle Nebula taken by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope. What’s truly awesome is that this collection of stars – NGC 6611 – is 6,500 light-years from Earth. That’s an inconceivable distance, at least to most of us. Yet the Hubble sends back a gorgeous photo of the neighborhood.

Yes, the Hubble is still at it, in its 21st year of  providing mind-boggling photographs from outer space.  In this image, dark patches that appear to be nothingness “are actually very dense regions of gas and dust, which obstruct light from passing through.”  So the Hubble provides evidence of ethereal neighborhoods where the lights are truly out. Astounding!

(Dennis Owen notes that the italics above are “chump change. Hubble can see several billion light years into space.” True enough. Here’s a report from last fall on the space telescope looking back to light from a galaxy that took 13.1 billion light years to reach Earth, from a time when the universe was “just” 600 million years old. And we note that Hubble is due to be replaced in 2014 by the James Webb Space Telescope, which will “see much farther back in time.” To what, we can only wonder.) – Doug Bedell


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