Art and the Manipulation of Space-Time

Last Spring, I took my Astronomy Club to the University of Arizona and to the Vatican Observatory which has a telescope in Tucson. We also participated in an astrophotography project that is explained in the Vatican Newsletter that I have attached. They have not published it online yet, so I hope the image will suffice for now. I have posted two of the pictures that we took with the use of the Vatican Advanced Technology Telescope on Mount Graham.



The Horse Head nebula image is a bit of astro-trickery! The club had gone to see a presentation at Central Connecticut State University the day before we processed this image. The talk at the planetarium focused on Einstein’s theories of relativity, and considered what would would happen to our conception of space and time if we could travel at “warp speed”. We actually processed the Horse Head nebula image in such a way that we brought the background stars forward and in line with the nebula. In doing that we manipulated where they were in space and also in time. This image is what it would look like if you could freeze time as you were flying your space craft through the Horse Head nebula at “warp speed”.  Isn’t art fantastic?!

We plan to return to Arizona in 2017. The focus of that trip will be geology, astrobiology, and robotics.


Thank you to Paul Baldassini for all his help with the image processing. His expertise in imaging made all the processing possible. You can check out his website here.

Thank you to the Vatican Observatory for all their assistance and the opportunity to do this work.

Top Photo: N23 Super nova remnant

7 thoughts on “Art and the Manipulation of Space-Time

  1. What a great project and field trip. That would have been much fun. I like their resulting Horse Head image. It is such an iconic object.

    I hope they enjoyed the process of making color from separate RGB images. There are many ways that can turn out if the components are adjusted even a little bit.

    Good for you and the students.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Wow. This is incredible stuff. I saw your post on Twitter yesterday, and was looking forward to reading more about it. What a great opportunity for the kids and for you. The way these images are processed is incredibly fascinating — all the work that goes into squeezing an workable photo out of not a lot of light. Congrats and making the most of this trip. It sounds really incredible. Good luck on the next one.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Scott! They have not posted the digital form of the article yet. Slooh would also enable us to book remote telescope time as well. It is the processing that is difficult and not necessarily determining the coordinates for the object. Slooh would let us book telescope time in the Canary Islands but that has a cost. I will keep you in the loop at we do more.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh, yeah, Slooh is great. I subscribed for a while a few years ago, but then they raised their prices, so I decided save the money, but it’s a great tool, and lots of fun to use, “Hey, I’m going to look at M101 tonight…”

        Liked by 1 person

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