A couple nights ago I spent several hours looking at one the night sky’s finest deep sky objects, the Great Hercules Cluster, along with a bunch of faint galaxies you can hop to from the cluster. If you’re interested in exploring this area of the sky with your telescope, you can read about it here.
Whenever I’m out, there’s always something interesting to photograph in the night sky. Venus, Jupiter, the Milky Way, the satellites. The list goes on. While setting up the telescope I was taken by a puddleful of stars on a nearby dirt road. The road was a mess, barely driveable, but a huge pothole cradled the reflection of the stars overhead, transforming it into a thing of beauty.
In appearance and reality, stars touch the Earth. Stars are responsible for the dirt that makes the roads that are potholed by traffic that fill with water that reflect the stars back up to the sky. Hydrogen, one of the main ingredients of water and many other important molecules, originated in the Big Bang. But everything heavier than lithium (element #3) was cooked up in the interiors of the suns that populate the night sky and illuminate the estimated 2 trillion galaxies out there.
Like a child using scrap wood and cardboard to build a fort, stars take simpler elements and combine them into more complex ones using the pressure and heat in their cores. Elements like carbon and oxygen. Large or overly massive stars can explode as supernovae, creating more complex elements such as gold and uranium. Released into space, all of it gets caught up in vast molecular clouds that gravitationally collapse to create new stars and planets.
And you know what that means? More puddles of course!