On being astronomically cultured

I don’t consider myself to be an expert in anything, really. Not even Darth Vader action figures which is my main hobby, and certainly not in art, literature, sport, theology or any scholarly pursuits.

I do, however, consider myself to be well rounded, in that I know a little bit about a lot of things. I think it’s important to be cultured and informed on issues, and to be able to at least identify and have some background knowledge on as many subjects as I can. For example, I am not expert in art but I can identify culturally significant works such as the Mona Lisa, The Birth of Venus, Persistence of Memory, The Great Wave or Starry Night.

It’s for this reason I share with you some of the most beautiful, awe inspiring astronomy and space exploration images ever taken. People should know, or have a good idea, on the subject and story behind each image and have a sense of the history of space exploration and the wonders on offer in the heavens above.

Click each thumbnail for links to larger images and explanations on each one. These are some of my favourites, significant to me because of the degree of difficulty in taking the images or because of the awesome wonder of what is being shown. Compare the first two images, “Pale Blue Dot” and “Hubble Ultra Deep Field”. The first shows us our own world, the limit and extends thereof seen clearly from a distance, and it seems really small. The second shows one tiny, dark part of our sky and reveals that it isn’t just filled with stars but galaxies.

The universe is indeed a wondrous place.