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The Sciences

The stars above, the luminescence below

Bad AstronomyBy Phil PlaitMarch 3, 2011 6:00 PM

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Sometimes the strangeness and beauty of nature come together in a scene so lovely, so surreal, that words fail. Such is the case in Phil Hart's spectacular gallery of pictures showing bioluminescence in Gippsland Lakes in Victoria, Australia:

philhart_biolum_startrail.jpg

Oh, my. Can you believe this is real? I had to compress the file to get it to work on the blog, so please click it to see it in higher-resolution, and also look at the other astonishing pictures in his gallery. Phil has a page describing in detail the pictures. In this case, a 1.5 hour exposure shows the glow from the trillions of Noctiluca Scintillans protists in the lake, as well as the trails of stars as they circle the southern celestial pole. That light on the horizon is not the Moon, but a house or some other man-made object. I love how the reflection curves and breaks up near the shore. Phil's pictures are simply breath-taking, and you just have to go and take a look. I am continually astonished at just how beautiful and surprising nature can be. It's thrilling to see such disparate pieces superposed in this way. Tip o' the luciferin to Jared Hopkins. Image used with permission of Phil Hart.

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