Seeing more - and less. Ah, the irony!

Oct 24

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10/24/2012 10:30 AM  RssIcon

I was perusing some of my usual, "Here's what's new in the world of astronomy/space" and ran across this article about astronomers taking a picture of 85 MILLION stars in the center of our Milky Way, creating a catalog 10x as large as any before it.  More accurately, it's an image from the VISTA infrared survey telescope at ESO’s Paranal Observator
  And the view it provides is actually pretty darn amazing.  

ESO’s Paranal Observatory VISTA infrared survey

(Click on this link to see the larger one.)  In addition to stars, there are gas clouds and dust lanes that are just mesmerizing to peruse.

But then this thought struck me: At exactly the time in the world of astronomy where the technological advances we have made with telescopes allow us to see and image ever more, as with this image, the world - largely, and by this I mean from a naked-eye perspective - sees less.

Don't get me wrong; pictures like these can certainly be inspiring.  But having experienced the vast expanse of the Milky Way under the dark night sky of Breckenridge Colorado one August night some 17 years ago, I can tell you with some certainty that these pictures are just not the same.  Seeing it for yourself matters.  That inspiring thought of that sky from so many years ago STILL stays with me, even today.  The latest Hubble or other cool/new telescope photos?  Not so much.

Shouldn't we be doing more to return those skies to our children?

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The Nightlight

This blog includes what to see in the night and daytime skies, thoughts on telescopes, binoculars, and other astronomy observing accessories and equipment, plus my own occasional notes on objects I've seen and observed. Oh, and the random theater or other "my take on life" post. In other words, there is always something interesting. Check it out.