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A deep look into a dark sky

Can you count the number of bright dots in this picture? This crowded frame is a deep-field image obtained using the Wide Field Imager (WFI), a camera mounted on a relatively modestly sized telescope, the MPG/ESO 2.2-metre located at the La Silla Observatory, Chile.

This image is one of five patches of sky covered by the COMBO-17 survey (Classifying Objects by Medium-Band Observations in 17 filters), a deep search for cosmic objects in a relatively narrow area of the southern hemisphere’s sky. Each one of the five patches is recorded using 17 individual colour filters. Each one of the five COMBO-17 images covers an area of the sky the size of the full Moon.
The survey has already revealed thousands of previously unknown cosmic specimens — over 25 000 galaxies, tens of thousands of distant stars and quasars previously hidden from our view, showing just how much we still have to learn about the Universe.
Some of the most distant flecks of light visible in this photo are galaxies whose light has been travelling for nine or ten billion years before reaching to us. By studying galaxies of different ages astronomers can understand how they evolve in time, from mature nearby galaxies similar to our galaxy, the Milky Way, to young ones in the distant Universe that reveal what the cosmos was like in its infancy.

Image credit: ESO
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Last week, this Tumblr went on a Hubble binge.  This week: Keck!  (Yes, in a desperate bid to keep the daily updates going, I’ve started using ground-based observations.)  We start with Jupiter, seen from the Keck Observatory at Mauna Kea in Hawaii on 4 June 2010, at wavelengths of 1.95-2.3 microns (i.e., infrared).  The gif covers about 30 minutes of real time.  (Program ID C304N2L.)
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"Claiming there is no other life in the universe is like scooping up some water, looking at the cup and claiming there are no whales in the ocean" - Neil deGrasse Tyson in response to “Aliens can’t exist because we haven’t found them yet” (via unusual-entities)

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Orion Nebula M42 I by \saiph on Flickr.
"The Cosmos is all that is or ever was or ever will be. Our feeblest contemplations of the Cosmos stir us — there is a tingling in the spine, a catch in the voice, a faint sensation as if a distant memory, of falling from a height. We know we are approaching the greatest of mysteries." - Carl Sagan, “Cosmos” (via thingslikepooteeweet)

"If you’re an atheist you believe this is the only life you’re going to get. It’s a precious life; it’s a beautiful life; it’s something we should live to the fullest, to the end of our days. If you don’t live this life to the full because you think you’re going to get another one, that’s an awfully negative way to live a life." - Richard Dawkins (via beachbabeftb)

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