Music of the Spheres
NGC 1 (upper) and NGC 2 (lower) in Pegasus
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For much of human history, the stars were known by their place within constellations and the song of the heavens was a simple but beautiful melody. But early telescopes revealed that the dark spaces between them held the faint whispers of dust, gas and, we now know far beyond these, other island universes.
About 100 years ago, a young astronomer named J.L.E. Dreyer broke with the military tradition of his family and set out to score these telescopic harmonies into a coherent symphonic arrangement. Three movements were composed- the NGC, the IC-1 and the IC-2. Today, we are familiar with many rifts heard midway through these works. Each inflame our imagination and ignite our enthusiasm- IC-434, IC-5146 and NGC-6514 are just a few.
But what of the opening queue- the first bar played in Dryer's prodigeous opus? Who among us has heard these sounds?
It was out of curiosity, and a gentle nudge, that my latest project set out to record his first catalog entries- there are scant visual records and even fewer images to be seen.
So, here's the beginning- the first two humble, spiraling notes of the great NGC.