Friday, May 2, 2008

Beautiful Saturn

One of the things which initially attracted me to Astronomy was the beauty of astronomical images. Astronomy is almost unique among the sciences in that it produces images which can be appreciated both for their science as well as for pure aesthetic pleasure. A prime example of this duality has recently opened at the American Museum of Natural History in NYC. It's an exhibit of images of Saturn from the Cassini-Huygens mission.

Quoted in the Cornell Daily Chronicle, Elizabeth Bilson (retired administrative director of the Cornell Astronomy Department) says of the image which inspired her to suggest the exhibition, "it glowed". She put forward the idea to members of the Cassini-Huygens team at Cornell who then worked together to select other images to be included in the exhibition which includes about 100 images in total.

And what a beautiful sight it truly is. This image was taken when Cassini-Huygens passed into the shadow Saturn allowing it to be shown spectacularly back-lit by the Sun. This image could never have been taken from Earth and is only available to us thanks to the dedication of astronomers, planetary scientists and engineers who worked on the Cassini-Huygens mission.

Thanks for indulging me, and what a delight is has been to write a post about Astronomy. Finally the job season is over and I hope for more of this to come. I chose "Astronomom" as a name (instead of some generic science mom title) not only because I thought it sounded cool but also because I actually wanted to talk about Astronomy as well as the challenges of being a scientist and a mother. After all I wouldn't be doing this if I didn't love the subject!

1 comment:

ScienceMama said...

Wait, seriously? That's a real photo of Saturn? It's so perfect, I would have thought it was photoshopped...