Sometimes I just forget our tiny place in the universe. How minuscule an area our atoms occupy, our Earth dwarfed by the enormity of the cosmos. Too large to fathom, to comprehend.

Moonlight reflecting off the Adriatic Sea and highlighting the boot of Italy.
Moonlight reflecting off the Adriatic Sea and highlighting the boot of Italy.

Like the proverbial kick in the solar plexus I ached in awe at the glorious power, space and size of these images and what they represent. My mind started doing gymnastics before conceding defeat and instead stopped to admire the sheer beauty, scope and energy of the images. Enjoy.

Europa - one of Jupiter's dozens moons - has a an icy surface filled with sprawling faults and deep flowing ridges.
Europa – one of Jupiter’s many moons – has an icy surface filled with sprawling faults and deep flowing ridges.

The pictures form part of a photographic exhibition at the National History Museum, London starting 22nd January 2016.  Called Otherworlds, the exhibition is an exploration of the solar system using some of the hundreds of thousands of images taken by robotic interplanetary probe cameras since the 1960s and recreated by Michael Benson to form the final composite images of the exhibition.

Calm day on Mars overlooking Husband Hill, which was named after Commander Rick Husband. He was the pilot of Colombia Space Shuttle which disintegrated on re-entry in 2003.
A calm day on Mars overlooking Husband Hill, which was named after Commander Rick Husband. He was the pilot of the Columbia Space Shuttle which disintegrated on re-entry in 2003.

 ‘Look up at the stars and not down at your feet. Try to make sense of what you see, and wonder about what makes the universe exist. Be curious.’ Stephen Hawking


A giant dust storm on Mars which can last months at a time.
A giant dust storm on Mars which can last months at a time.
Fog at the bottom of the 4,000km long & 6.5 km deep canyon on Mars.
Fog at the bottom of the 4,000km long & 6.5 km deep canyon on Mars.

‘Music in the soul can be heard by the whole universe.’  Lao Tzu

Ginormous solar flares.
Ginormous solar flares.

Credit: Nasa/JPL/Michael Benson, Kinetikon Pictures & BBC News.

42 thoughts on “COSMIC WONDER

  1. Peter R

    The size of the cosmos is mind-boggling. One can grasp a million miles, even a billion miles, but millions of light-years? The thought that in that immensity, all we have is this glorious bit of rock, makes one really appreciate how we have to look after it.

    1. Mind-boggling is definitely the word and I doubt we can ever really fathom the size of the cosmos. It does put our planet into perspective and hopefully will give us motivation to treat it with more consideration. At times I’m not too hopeful of that happening alas.

    1. Eve, that’s what struck me. If you think about the distance these pictures have travelled, the effort it’s taken to get them at all – it’s amazing. Then on top of that the work to create the final pictures using digital techniques etc here on Earth. A long laborious task of love and passion. Thankfully, we all get to view them and enjoy.

  2. Love the photos compliments of NASA. Makes one ponder the big scheme of things. I recall years ago teaching Ph.D. candidates in engineering German for reading and translation at NASA Langley Air Force Base in Virginia. I often wonder where these students are today. Thanks for the lovely post.

    1. Wow, Mary Ann! Teaching at NASA Langley!! That’s amazing. You’re right, I wonder where they are now. So glad you liked the post – I must admit I keep coming back to the photos myself, or maybe I’m in just a reflective mood at the moment.

      1. Images inspire all the time. Looking out the window as classical music plays, the snow continues to fall and make everything more beautiful and magical. There is beauty in both the big and small things of life. Reflection is good for the soul.

  3. Anonymous

    Great photos Annika – and it certainly puts us in our place in the grand scheme of things. It appears that the only place we could possibly survive is here on Earth – but it’s an amazing universe out there.


    1. Space is such a dangerous place and the intenational space centre etc is often taken for granted. Reading about the problems encountered on even a relatively brief space walks you realise that even if colonising Mars or anywhere else in space will become possible the logistics for ensuring survival seem insurmountable.

    1. Yes, Janice, as soon as I read about it I thought to share it here on WP, the photos awe-inspiring and also interesting with the exhibition. I’m definitely going there! As I was (and still am to a degree) mad on space I can’t wait to see them in real life.

  4. Thanks for the photos Annika. We may be small in size but the facts we’ve learned about the universe is phenomenal. I’d never thought in my lifetime that I would see such clear pictures of Mars or Europa and now of Pluto. They say that we’re here to teach the universe about itself… maybe so…

    1. That’s interesting, JC, I sort of feel we have so much to learn from the universe but maybe it’s a reciprocal relationship! 😀 These photos have obviously been enhanced and artistically manipulated but are so moving in their scope.

    1. Bette, these did take my breath away this morning and I just so wanted to share them. Often it’s easy to forget our place in the whole cosmos. So glad you liked the quotes, I do like the reminder to ‘be curious’ – that characteristic which is core to our very being as children and then seems to get worn down.

  5. Looks like a wonderful exhibit. It’s mind-boggling how small we really are. And by ‘we’ I mean earth. Which means each of us is barely a tiny speck in the grand scheme of things. Helps put things in perspective. 🙂

    1. When you start thinking about it, it’s a bit of a wake-up call,isn’t it, Carrie?! I was struck by the vastness of it all, then there was little me, on this patch of land, so so small. I’m hoping to go to the exhibition in the next few months, that should be quite something – I can just imagine the quiet awe!

  6. I love the vastness of space, Annika. It makes me feel infinitesimally unimportant in a mind-blowing way. At the same time, I’m aware of what a miracle it is that I even exist – a conscious speck on a minuscule speck of rock. My head starts spinning! Thanks for the morning mind-trip! 😀

    1. Oh dear, Diana! I didn’t mean for your head to start spinning but understand exactly the emotion. That’s how I felt when I tried to think rationally about it our place in the universe whilst looking at the pictures. I used to be mad about space as young, planets and space shuttle posters adorning my walls instead of the usual pop stars etc so this was a real throwback for me when I used to lay for hours contemplating the universe,the Earth and our tiny place upon it. Impossibly miraculous. Humbling in the extreme.

        1. So true, but what I love about this is the fact that it is an exhibition in London, not only of the photographs themselves – not just screen size – but also accompanied by audio so you can learn so much along the way – I’m definitely going!

  7. Mirja

    Stunning post Annika, Pictures, words, quotes. I love it.
    Our intellect has to concede defeat in the face of the awesome and glorious power
    of the universe.
    Thank you.

    1. I like that, Mirja – letting our intellect concede defeat. Let our emotions rise to the forefront and explore our reactions and feelings and not try to deduce the vastness of the cosmos. Very wise words, my friend. Glad you liked the quotes, thought- provoking ones and I like the idea of the music of our souls drifting along out into the far reaches of the universe.

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