I am a native in this world And think in it as a native thinks
Saturday, February 22, 2020
Friday, February 21, 2020
Another look at what I now think of as my tree, from last summer.
I love that rectangle of leafy green inside my neighbor's kitchen (it could be a window, but I'm pretty certain there's another room between that wall and the street, so I think it must be a mirror hanging over the sink) framed through another window.
Tuesday, February 18, 2020
Two of the huge trees outside my bedroom window were cut down last year. I didn't know it was going to happen; I was sitting on my bed drinking coffee and suddenly branches started falling.
I was in mourning for months. I loved catching glimpses of birds through the leaves, and the foliage acted as a curtain for my bedroom window. But there is certainly a lot more light now, and I like being able to see the buildings on the other side of the block, and there's nothing I can do to bring those trees back anyway, so I've resigned myself.
One wonderful consolation has been watching the light on this tree, which I could never see clearly before. Most of the time the tree is just an interesting brown shape against the white brick and square windows. But in winter, in the early morning sun, it explodes into this glory of gold.
It only lasts for a few minutes. The sun slides behind some other building and the tree's in shade again. Later, when the sun is higher, the entire yard is brightly lit, and the tree is pretty, but still, just another tree.
But those few minutes are magical -- proof being that I actually got dressed and crawled out on my fire escape at 7:30 on a freezing morning so I could take pictures of it. Who wants curtains when this is what you see from your bed?
Here's a lovely closeup of a spiral galaxy, courtesy of the Hubble.
NGC 7331 is similar to our Milky Way, so this is probably what the denizens of any of the billions of planets there see when they look in our direction. Wave at them!
Image Credit and License: ESA/Hubble and NASA/D. Milisavljevic (Purdue University)
Sunday, February 16, 2020
Saturday, February 15, 2020
Thursday, February 13, 2020
Tuesday, February 11, 2020
This is 3C 273, an object much more interesting than this Hubble image suggests.
Quasars (the name was originally derived from quasi-stellar radio source) were originally discovered in the 1950's when astronomers were using radio emissions as a new tool for investigating the universe. They found hundreds of objects that were emitting large amounts of radiation but either were invisible optically, or appeared as a very faint star.
When I was taking astronomy classes in college, quasars were still a mystery. The large redshift in the radiation they emitted suggested that they were very far away and moving very fast, maybe proto-galaxies at the very edge of the expanding universe.
Now more than 200,000 quasars have been identified, and we know that they consist of supermassive black holes surrounded by a disc of gas. As the gas falls into the black hole, enormous amounts of energy are released; the largest quasars are thousands of times more luminous than a galaxy like the Milky Way.
Finally, I have to admit that I am also old enough that I can't see the word quasar without thinking of the line of Motorola TV's by that name.
Credit: ESA/Hubble and NASA
Monday, February 10, 2020
New Year's morning in Times Square and all that pesky confetti to clean up.
I don't really have working weeks any more (hurray!) but I'm taking care of so much paperwork at the moment, plus planning upcoming trips, that it feels like a job. Though fortunately I don't have to write a report on my progress or sit through a meeting explaining what I'm doing instead of doing it.
Sunday, February 9, 2020
Saturday, February 8, 2020
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