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Andy Kev.

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Over the past three or so years I have found myself becoming increasingly interested in astronomy or more specifically, cosmology. While I find it hard to raise a flicker of interest in the moon or the planets, galaxies and the structures and processes involved in them are a source of mind boggling interest.

I know that we can work the numbers for the cosmos but I think the scale of the reality is beyond the imagination of human beings (after all, we evolved to live on a small bit of our planet). I can't really envision the size of our galaxy, nor can I grasp the number of stars in it.

Does anybody else find this to be a source of wonder?
 

Sandyn

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Yes, It is mind blowing!! I'm scared of heights, but I think nothing of going outside , looking up at the sky. At that moment, I'm dangling into infinity held only by a force we don't fully understand, but if I did 'fall' it would take a while before I hit anything. The thing I really find amazing is everything you know and see, everything in the universe, was compressed into a bubble a fraction the size of a pinhead, just before the big bang. We were all in there together!!!! :D
 

Fitzroy

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Yes I do! You can also go the other way and be astonished when you try to consider how small an atom is and how many molecules there are in even the smallest thing. Each breath you take is likely to contain a molecule from Cesar’s last breath. Look that one up.
 

Fitzroy

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Oh and of course we are all made of stardust, that’s the other fact I love that relates to the universe.
 

D_W

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Over the past three or so years I have found myself becoming increasingly interested in astronomy or more specifically, cosmology. While I find it hard to raise a flicker of interest in the moon or the planets, galaxies and the structures and processes involved in them are a source of mind boggling interest.

I know that we can work the numbers for the cosmos but I think the scale of the reality is beyond the imagination of human beings (after all, we evolved to live on a small bit of our planet). I can't really envision the size of our galaxy, nor can I grasp the number of stars in it.

Does anybody else find this to be a source of wonder?
Yes, as with the likely origins of iron on our planet, etc, and how far along we probably are in time vs. how much is left. Things like quasars, neutron stars, etc, supernovae - super interesting.

I took an astronomy class in college and I remember at the time that the thought was there would be no binary systems with planets in them, and I believe now (haven't looked in a while) that we have identified binary systems with planets in them. I recall my professor saying that planets would just be "flung out" of a binary solar system (this was 1995).
 

Terrytpot

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My preferred reading for entertainment is Sci-Fi stuff and some of it is extremely clever if not downright spooky in its prescience in that it can describe something way before we come to actually achieve it and think of it as run of the mill. Azimov was a master at this and is widely credited as the "Father of Robotics" for his creative output in an era when a computer was small if it could just fit inside a single room and robots were not just unheard of but regarded as a ridiculous subject for serious contemplation. I particularly enjoyed his "Foundation" series:
which over the course of several novels spanned a time scale of 20,000 years but managed to remain in our galaxy as it was large enough for the events to all fit without having to "step outside" of it.
 

Terry - Somerset

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The ancients used to look in wonderment at the night sky - even our own sun, moon and an eclipse were remarkable.

We have now grown so used to having explanations for all kinds of phenomena once perceived as incredible, that we now believe there is an explanation for all things.

This IMHO extends to cosmology. I believe Holmes once said to Watson that: "once you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, no matter how improbable, must be the truth"

Theories related to singularities, dark matter, quarks etc conform to the Holmesian proposition - no matter how improbable, (they) must be the truth.

I just find them implausible - on one level I have to accept that clever people with brains the size of planets are convinced - but I remain obviously ignorant and unconvinced.

I do have a greater interest in science related to the very small - made far more relevant by covid, vaccines, cell and virus structures etc.
 

Starflyer

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My main hobby (obsession) is taking photos of the night sky, from both my heavily light polluted garden or occasionally from darker skies when I go off camping.

One of the reasons for me joining this forum is that I intend to build my own roll off roof observatory next year and I'll need plenty of help and advice.

There's a few of my pics here if anyone's interested. I'm aware that people get a glazed look in their eyes when I start talking about my images though :censored:
 

doctor Bob

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The amazing thing is (in my opinion) it will all collapse again to a pinhead and start again, how many big bangs have there been so far, could be 1 or an infinate number
 

Sandyn

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There's a few of my pics here if anyone's interested. I'm aware that people get a glazed look in their eyes when I start talking about my images though
These pictures are stunning!!!!! some of the best I have ever seen. What equipment do you use? I guess you have a cooled camera and a tracking telescope?? and probably a lot more?
 

Tris

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Those photos are brilliant. I've been a keen back garden sky watcher for years. Can't make any claim to understanding cosmology but I like the fact that I can see light that originated before humans existed, very good at putting your own problems into perspective.
 

Andy Kev.

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It's interesting to see that so many people find it fascinating. My guide in this area is a book called An Introduction to Galaxies and Cosmology by Jones, Lambourne and Serjeant. It doesn't hold back on the maths but the beauty of it is that it is not strictly necessary to be able to do the maths to understand the book. In other words, if you can't do sums, the text, diagrams and pictures will get you there.

Starflyer: those are wonderful pictures. There was somebody selling prints of the Andromeda galaxy in the classifieds of Private Eye a few months back. Unfortunately they were a bit pricey. Yours are easily in the same league.
 

Starflyer

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These pictures are stunning!!!!! some of the best I have ever seen. What equipment do you use? I guess you have a cooled camera and a tracking telescope?? and probably a lot more?
Thank you.

Most were taken with a dedicated, cooled astronomy camera, it's monochrome and special filters allow me to 'cut through' the light pollution. The mount tracks the sky and allows me to image the same object over multiple nights, a lot of these objects are very faint and need several hours of total exposure.

IMG_20171211_172203.jpg
 

billw

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Those pictures are incredible - the universe is so beautiful and that's just the stuff we can see. I do often wonder what else is out there, and how far away it might be.
 

stuartpaul

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It is indeed a fascinating subject and one I willing admit to knowing very little about. I always find myself asking ‘how do they know what really happened?’. Much of it is just (very) educated guesswork but surely that’s what it is?

About 12 years ago I was fortunate enough to spend time down the Grand Canyon and spent many hours staring up at the night sky, the most beautiful I’ve ever seen.
 

Andy Kev.

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It is indeed a fascinating subject and one I willing admit to knowing very little about. I always find myself asking ‘how do they know what really happened?’. Much of it is just (very) educated guesswork but surely that’s what it is?

About 12 years ago I was fortunate enough to spend time down the Grand Canyon and spent many hours staring up at the night sky, the most beautiful I’ve ever seen.
It's a bit more than just guesswork but to convince yourself of that, you have to delve into the science a little bit. For instance, you can work out if a star or a galaxy is moving towards you or away from you by observing something called the "Red Shift". If a star is moving away from you, it looks a bit redder than if it were standing still relative to you and if it's moving towards you, it looks a bit bluer. It's the application of this principle (amongst other things) that led them to realise that the universe is expanding.

As far as I can see (and if anybody knows better, then please correct), guesswork only comes into it once you get beyond a thing called the "Event Horizon" of a black hole. That's the diameter around the hole from which light cannot escape and it is effectively the point where things like the laws of relativity just don't work any more. Everything else i.e. the things we can see and measure have so far confirmed Einstein's theory of relativity.
 
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