aurora borealis over the april 2010 eruption of iceland’s eyjafjallajokull volcano, photographed by (click pic) ragnar th. sigurdsson, james appleton, mike herbert, david martín castán and kristinn r. kristinsson.
Behold the planet Earth on September 14, 1966, as seen during the Gemini 11 mission. (NASA)
Telescopes are in some ways like time machines. They reveal galaxies so far away that their light has taken billions of years to reach us. We in astronomy have an advantage in studying the universe, in that we can actually see the past. We owe our existence to stars, because they make the atoms of which we are formed. So if you are romantic you can say we are literally starstuff. If you’re less romantic you can say we’re the nuclear waste from the fuel that makes stars shine.
We’ve made so many advances in our understanding. A few centuries ago, the pioneer navigators learnt the size and shape of our Earth, and the layout of the continents. We are now just learning the dimensions and ingredients of our entire cosmos, and can at last make some sense of our cosmic habitat.
|—||Sir Martin Rees, Astronomer Royal of Great Britian (via whats-out-there)|
STS-118, Space Shuttle Endeavour and ISS