I'm in the mood for a galaxy, so here's NGC 5643 as seen by the Hubble.
I always love the way the blue stars show up so beautifully in a galaxy image like this, but magnificent as they are, it's the small, common yellow stars like our sun that provide an environment where life can flourish. They won't show up in an image like this, their light overwhelmed by that of the supergiants, but they're there, millions of them, each chugging along for the billions of years necessary to form planets capable of creating and sustaining life. Meanwhile the blue giants burn hot and die fast, their only legacy to the universe the heavy elements they create when they explode in a supernova.
Image Credit: ESA/Hubble and NASA, A. Riess et al.; Acknowledgement: Mahdi Zamani
Early this morning, my backyard tree was full of mourning doves. There were at least ten of them hanging out and munching on the dying leaves, and I had to get out the binoculars and watch them for a while. I kept thinking Partridges in a pear tree which, except for the partridges and the pears, was totally apropos.
Then a tiny bird on the building behind the tree caught my eye -- there was a woodpecker pecking at the wood window frame. I couldn't tell if it was a downy or a hairy woodpecker -- too far away -- but if it managed to find anything edible in that window, my neighbors are in a lot of trouble.
Here's a downy woodpecker in Central Park, almost certainly having better luck snack-wise than the one I saw this morning.
I'm trying to cram in all of my doctor's appointments during this lull of nice weather and not-yet-fully-resurgent virus. And because I don't want to get on a bus or even into an Uber unless I absolutely have to, I had two very long walks yesterday, to the East Side and back.
It was probably the longest I've been outside since the lockdown began in March and it was wonderful to be just walking the streets of New York again. I was amused to see that the ever-enterprising street vendors are now selling masks with designer names along with the cheap sunglasses and knockoff handbags.
Mare Frigoris, the Sea of Cold, is not, as you might expect, one of the frozen-looking gray patches in this image of the moon's far north, but rather the dark brown swath running from the left to the center.
The dark brown crater below the mare is Plato, which for some reason I always read as Pluto. It's not quite that cold there.
House finches are common in Central Park, so -- at least in the Olden Times when I could go there whenever I damn well felt like it -- I used to see them on a regular basis.
Now I marvel at this little stripey red creature, which looks as exotic and unlikely as a blue-footed booby. They don't seem to venture south to this neighborhood and it will probably be many weeks before schoolwork leaves me the time and energy to make the trek to the park again.
I had two short papers due today, and turned them in with a whopping 18 minutes to spare before the deadline. So late posting, as is becoming the usual state of affairs.
Anyway, here's a city bus reflecting its own version of 42nd Street back to us.
(And when I wrote that last sentence, I was immediately reminded that “city bus” was the example I gave in Linguistics class this week for a noun modified by another noun. I've got school on the brain, but honestly these days being able to ignore current events is a blessing.)
Since Newfoundland feels like such a lovely respite these days, here's a tangle of wire, shadows and light in downtown St. John's.
My classes go until almost 10 pm on Wednesday nights, so when we take our break at 8:45 or so, I've started changing into my pajamas, brushing my teeth and crawling into bed for the second half of class.
I took a photo of my living room and use that as my Zoom background, so it's not obvious that I've moved to the bedroom. (I don't think I'll be able to get away with the penguin pajamas when the weather gets colder, though.) I mentioned this ruse to another student in a breakout session, and she disabled her own background temporarily to show me that she was actually in bed with her dog.
Those lovely stained glass windows in St. John's have been sitting in a folder for more than a year, and were never posted because they just didn't fit any category -- not really reflections, not really urban poetry. But the shape reminded me of the caves in Dungeon Provincial Park, and so here's a double helping of Canadian beauty.
I'm glad to have something to focus on other than the fact that my latest self-haircut revealed that I have two previously unsuspected bald spots on the back of my head. (Fortunately they're invisible on Zoom.)
Or that when I came back from running a couple of errands on Tuesday I left my keys in my apartment door, and didn't discover it until this morning. Ordinarily one of my neighbors would have noticed and knocked on my door, but none of us go anywhere these days. Fortunately, thieves and axe murderers are also apparently in lockdown so no harm done, but I hope I'm not going to make a habit of this.
This magnificent view of the Orion Nebula was processed to show only the colors emitted by oxygen, hydrogen and sulfur.
This country, and this world, do not appear to be getting any saner this week -- quite the contrary -- and this picture makes me remember that in the rest of the universe, things not only still make sense, they can be jaw-droppingly beautiful at the same time.