This image was produced with a 12-inch RCOS telescope and a SBIG STL-11000 camera, located in southern Australia, on May 30, 2006.
Exposure times: 170 minutes Luminance, 50 minutes Red, 25 minutes Green and 50 minutes Blue (1X1)

Radio Galaxy Centaurus A (NGC 5128) in Centaurus

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Being There

It's interesting how time and distance affects our perception about places and events. For example, the night sky is an optical illusion that appears to represent the universe as it currently exists. But even the closest star is eight minutes in the distance and everything else that lights the sky is like late-arriving rolling thunder from far-flung storms dotting the heavens. When we step outside we step into the past- the present and eternity becomes indistinguishable.

It's little wonder, therefore, that our sense of connection to the universe is, at best, tenuous. All of our senses are predicated on responding through a will-it-affect-me filter. The suns that dot the sky at night are only points of light, even through our largest instruments. The events of today's news have a far likelier chance of disturbing or delighting us than anything that can only be seen through a long exposure picture. I have friends who smile and ask. "Why do you bother?"

I reply that the iron in our blood and the metal in our jewelry are not the result of casual spontaneity. We are a part of the universe and not apart from it- it's that simple. The feeble light with which we see these past events may be tucked safely in the distance but we owe our existence to similar occurrences and the collective body of images produced voluntarily by many others around the globe takes us closer to being there without being there.

New bridges that span the gulf between being here and being there have also become available. My latest project was taken with a remote controlled telescope located about 50 miles east of Melbourne, Australia, for example. This first image was paradoxically exposed 3/4 of a day in my future at the end of May.

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