Hubble, Monocerotis, & Dunes

by Paul Roark

This is a collage or composite of the Monocerotis nebula, (the expelled shell of V838, a variable star in the Monocerotis constellation) taken by the Hubble space telescope, and Oceano Dunes, taken with my Rollei SL66 and 50 mm Zeiss Distagon. I think it makes a rather extreme wide-angle to telephoto juxtaposition. These are 2 slices of our universe at very different scales -- displayed together just for the fun of it.

Note that our view of the universe through the Hubble telescope is, in effect, part of the public domain. We have, literally, a universe full of fascinating and beautiful images that we are free to explore and use. When we look through this public window to the universe, we see a part of our larger environment that is usually outside of our experience, but it is just as real as what we see when looking through a microscope, but the other direction. For that matter, it is just as real as what we see when looking into a mirror.

(ESA/Hubble images are released under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 license and may be reproduced and adapt, including for commercial use, without fee provided attribution is given to ESA/Hubble spacetelescope effort. Click here for information on the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 requirements.)

I've always been interested in optics, telescopes and astronomy. One of the contacts I was fortunate to have was with Clyde Chivens, who started the optical company that was acquired by Perkin Elmer (see and had a major roll in the Hubble project, including the unfortunate optical snafu that great instrument suffered. His side of that story, by the way, was that the US military had a test bed that could have checked the Hubble and caught the problem before it was launched, but they refused to share the military test facilities with the civilian effort. At the time it was believed to be less expensive to test the instrument in space and repair it there than build a new test bed on earth. The information provided by the PBS documentary "Invisible Universe Revealed," aired on April 2015, makes it appear the problems with the Hubble mirror were much more complex than Clyde revealed to me and draws into question the decision to launch prior to thorough testing.