The Sciences

Music of the spheres

Bad AstronomyBy Phil PlaitJul 24, 2011 4:00 PM

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Alex Parker is an astronomy PhD student at the University of Victoria, and had a neat idea: create music based on 241 supernovae found in a three-year-long survey of the sky. The data were from the Canada-France-Hawaii-Telescope, and he made a video of the effort:

[embed width="610"]http://vimeo.com/23927216[/embed]

Each note represents one of the supernovae. The volume is based on the star's distance, and the pitch based on how long it took the supernova to rise to maximum brightness and fade away -- that's tied to the exploding star's total energy released, and was the key factor used to discover dark energy

-- together, they are combined into this "Supernova Sonata"

. Clever, and cool. Speaking of which, I also got an email from Mike Lemmon of Neue Music. For a website called Experience the Planets

, he created music I'd characterize as "atmospheric" -- more tonal and ethereal than most synth music. I happen to like this kind of stuff, and I find myself listening to his "Planets" as I'm working. It's not for everybody, I know, but if you like that kind of thing as I do you should give it a shot. It's available on iTunes

, or you can go to the link above and listen while thumbing through some incredibly beautiful artwork of the planets.

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