Pillars of Creation
January 29, 2014
I was about 14 when the Pillars of Creation photo was captured by the Hubble telescope. The first time I saw it was actually as a poster on the wall while visiting the Naval Observatory in DC. The image itself was stunning, until somebody told me that the pillars themselves were some five light-years tall. It takes five whole years for light to travel from the bottom of the dust cloud to the top! A dust cloud that had such detail, such bumps and ridges, that it could have risen like a storm cloud on the midwest plains. The scale of that photograph reshaped my conception of what's out there in space; not just stars and planets and lots of empty space, but congregations of all this random matter floating around waiting for millions of years to coalesce by gravity. Having eyes the size of Hubble was one of the foundations of my wonder of science and the universe in which we live, and I hope that alongside the true and valuable research we can continue to find and publish images and scenes like this, as a way of publicizing and marketing how fantastic space exploration is.
In 2016, The Planetary Society’s LightSail program will take the technology a step further.