Historic New “Portrait of the Universe” Made By the Largest Digital Camera on Earth

Artist's conception of the Milky Way galaxy.

Artist's Rendition of Our Milky Way Galaxy

Copyright 2011-3011 By Chase Kyla Hunter, All Rights Reserved.

I’ve been fascinated with the starry night sky and the fundamental nature of the universe for as long as I can remember. As an eight year girl, I laid on my back at night in the warm North Carolina summers, t-shirt wet with evening dew, staring up into the sparkling  spray of the center of the Milky Way galaxy in hushed awe for hours. Something about that view always made me inexplicably homesick, as if this place called “earth” where I was living, trapped in a little girl’s body, only with the mind of an eight year old to tell me what was true or false, was just a bus station for me, a waiting room,  a depot somewhere in time and space, and I was just passing through.

How I could have felt this way as I child I will never understand. I suppose I was one of the first “indigo children” born into the earlier generation of baby boomers, that predated the term and the concept by a good head start of about thirty years. But as a kid, I could not stop staring at the night sky. How I ended up NOT becoming an astronomer is odd, frankly.

We now have a history making opportunity, through the gift of advanced technology, to learn more about the vast universe in which we live than at any time in human history. Will humankind cease arguing, fighting, wrestling over trivialities long enough to stare up into the night sky as a species and realize the miraculous nature of our very existence? It seems to me that the mere sight of this new cosmic photograph, this portrait of time and space, revealing mind stretching immensity of our present universe, should teach us that we are each one some precious parcel, uniquely designed and stamped with fingerprints and footprints that make every one of us an absolute original work of art, no two alike, genetics for each and everyone utterly differentiated and sublime in their own way.

It has taken ages for human civilization to come to this point. When you look at the new cosmic portrait of our universe, you are looking at thousands of years of human history now culminated in the manufacture of these dazzling digital cameras which can take a composite photograph comparable to a grain of sand on a beach here on earth taking a picture of the regions far beyond the known boundaries of our Milky Way galaxy. We are living in precious, history making days here on this world. My prayer for humankind is that we can all stop shouting long enough to hear the heartbeat of the universe calling, beckoning us to step out of species babyhood and into cosmic adulthood in time to avert our own self inflicted demise.

I often get the feeling, gazing up into the never-ending stream of stars and planets, that not every species “makes it” in the end. Just because we are here now, does not infer that we will be here 10,000 years from now. We know that countless species of plant and animal life which has evolved here on earth in the last 500 million years is no longer with us. Thousands of species are gone forever. Doesn’t that fact, in and of itself, teach us that unless we attend to our progress as a species with much more love and critical care, we too might not be here one day in the far distant future? Species survival may be predicated on more farseeing intelligence than the human species has displayed to date.

At the rate at which we are killing one another in religious wars [ a contradiction in terms, an oxymoron, note the word has “moron” in the back end of it ] the rate at which we are becoming more alienated than ever from our fellow man in the popular “us versus them” “red versus blue” and “left verses right” media wars, it would appear that global unity consciousness is still far far away from us, like those sparkling threads of stars and planets which whirl above our heads, thousands of light years away.

I do wonder: Will humankind learn the primary lesson of Jesus of Nazareth‘s message in time to save ourselves: “Love one another.”

Chase Kyla Hunter

Related:

BOSS SEGUE-2 APOGEE MARVELS

See http://newsfeed.time.com/2011/01/12/see-your-universe-behold-the-high-def-trillion-pixel-image-of-the-cosmos/

See: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-12170904

The Sloan Digital Sky Survey: Massive Spectroscopic Surveys of the Distant Universe, Our Milky Way Galaxy, and Extrasolar Planetary Systems

A description from the SDSS website reads:

“Building on the legacy of the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS) and SDSS-II, the SDSS-III Collaboration is carrying out a program of four surveys to map the structure and dynamics of the Milky Way, to find and characterize extrasolar planetary systems, and to understand dark energy and the nature of the universe.”

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5 comments

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