Speaking Of Time…

Time has always been a fascination for me. What is it and why does it behave the way it does? For some very interesting insights I suggest you look up the work of Sean Carroll. One hint; entropy. As you can see from my last post even photographing something as simple as a tree invokes the idea of time.

Anyway, if you are not familiar with the astronomer, Phil Plait, you should be. His blog, Bad Astronomy is just chock full of mind blowing items. Here is one for example:

A little over 2000 light years away, toward the constellation of Cepheus, is a place where stars are being born. It’s a nebula, a gas cloud, and it’s called IC 1396. It’s monstrous, well over a hundred light years across – even at its tremendous distance, it’s wider than six full Moons in our sky.

Do you understand the distances he is talking about. Light, moving at 670,616,629 miles per hour takes 2,000 years to reach us from Cepheus. So that works out to, let’s see, 2,000 years is 17,520,000 hours times speed of light  is 1.75 to the 16 power! Divide that by the mph of the fastest NASA space vehicle currently, Helios, which attains speeds of 150,000 mph,  that gives us 78,328,022,267 hours or 3,263,667,594 days or 8,941,555 years. That’ s how long it would takes us traveling in the fastest spaceship to reach the constellation of Cepheus. Fair warning, I am not a math wiz and all of these calculations  can be far off, but still it gives you an idea of the distances and time we are talking about.

And when we get there we would see this:

© J-P Metsävainio

© J-P Metsävainio

 

According to Phil Plait:

Finnish astrophotographer J-P Metsävainio observed IC 1396, making a gorgeous image of it. But he wasn’t satisfied just doing that. He’d been playing with making 3D images for some time, and decided this might be a good opportunity to make a model of the structure of the nebula, and then create an animated GIF of it.

 

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