Thursday, 5 April 2018

and now wonder, ye angels

To launch a new series called Pretty Scientific that looks at some of the most iconic and instructive images in the sciences, Gizmodo chose the 1995 photograph captured by the Hubble Space Telescope of a sector of the Eagle Nebula of interstellar gas and dust referred to as the Pillars of Creation.
The name is in reference to an 1857 sermon by celebrated London pastor Charles Haddon Spurgeon entitled “The Condescension of Christ” which on the birth of Jesus remarked, “And now wonder, ye angels, the infinite has become an infant; He upon whose shoulders the Universe doth hang, hangs at His mother’s breast—He who created all things, and bears up the pillars of creation.” There is—as with a lot astronomical imagery—a lot of fine-tuning going into this composition but, as the article explains, presenting the discovery of this incubator of stars is not about liberty or artistic license, but rather a deliberated and debated pastiche and compromise to highlight the amount of data that the telescope can collect that far surpasses the naked eye and would be much diminished—and nigh invisible—without such aides.