Carina Nebula Picture

Today the Guardian points us toward the most detailed pictures ever released of the Carina Nebula – and it’s gorgeous.

Head over to the NASA website to check it out. The picture was compiled using hundreds of other pictures from the European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope (VLT)

The VLT sits at an altitude of 2,500m, on top of Mount Paranal in the northern Atacama desert in Chile. The dry, dusty desert is almost devoid of life and a perfect place to watch the skies: at night, the bone dry air means the VLT can track and measure stars, black holes and planets with exquisite precision using its four individual observatories. At the heart of each observatory is an 8m-wide mirror made from a single piece of polished glass, the exact shape of which changes 100 times per second to counteract, in real time, the distorting effects of the Earth’s atmosphere on the starlight it is trying to detect.

That would make a pretty amazing field trip… go take a gander through the telescope…

As someone who advocates environmental protection for purely anthropocentric reasons pictures like this remind me of why it’s important that we keep humans around for as long as possible. We’re so small, so lucky and have so much to discover. I wish that we didn’t have environmental (and economic and social and…etc) problems hampering our quest for knowledge and exploration.

As a side note: I like listening to Deadmau when looking at pictures like this… I was listening to Soma while perusing the NASA pictures today.

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Katie is a graduate student from Canada studying the environment and systems theory. She also loves dinosaurs and baking cupcakes. Follow her on twitter @katiekish

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