Orion The Hunter

‘But what a field of novelty is here opened to our conceptions! A shining fluid…


The National Geographic book ‘Hubble: Imaging Space and Time’ features over 200 images courtesy of the NASA Hubble Space Telescope. I put it to you that, if given the chance, you can flick through this book without being arrested by the visual beauty and multitude of possibilities of just one image, let alone 200+. Many of these, particularly those ever-waltzing spiral galaxies, are left somewhat neglected in the desktop backgrounds and screensavers of computers everywhere. Yet I often find solitude in delving into the ever-so-simple Hubble gallery, or traking down the lesser known landscapes taken by GALEX et al, and an immensely enriching and rewarding experience at that. Peer through to the depths of this one universe we have, dedicate a good deal of time just looking. (I’m reminded of Orson Welles’ deflating comment on Antonioni, despairing at ‘the belief that, because a shot is good, it’s going to get better if you keep looking at it.’) Through these images, we look not just into our galactic neighbourhood and, by extension, the origins of everything, but also back in time. This is one of my favourite images: a gorgeous composite of the Orion Nebula, as it looked when kingdoms rose and fell at the early stages of the 6th century, with King Arthur fending off the Saxons in legendary battles which pale in insignificance in comparison. My imagination is ill-equipped for fathoming the immensity of what such photos expose, and that they are, in fact, mere photos of galactic dust.


[Click to enlarge]


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