About the photographer, Carl Woebcke

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Educated at Caltech, Harvard and Brandeis, I print, laminate and mount large, high-resolution astronomical photographs, and write, print and bind fine art books. I also play the trombone and am a tournament chess player/teacher. The picture above is from my 2001 The Poetry of Space class. To the upper left is a three-foot rotating celestial sphere demonstrating the relationship of the polar inclination of the earth to its path around the sun and to the motion of the planets. Center stage is a 12" Meade Schmidt-Cassegrain telescope (all photos for sale and displayed on this site are taken by much larger telescopes). In the background is a gravitational collection of stars called the Sombrero Galaxy. Most of the points of light in this old, low resolution photograph (see current high resolution photo) are stars as large or larger than our sun; in fact our entire solar system to scale is smaller than the smallest dot of light in this photograph.

 

The dark band crossing the center of this photo is a lane of dust 600 quadrillion miles in diameter, rotating once every 250 million years around this galaxy’s core. It appears dark because it blocks the light of hotter stars behind it. If the three trillion stars in this immense spiral galaxy were each a grain of sand, altogether they could cover a football field to a depth of 6 inches. Light—which can circle the earth 8 times a second or travel to the moon in less than a second and a half—takes 28 million years to get here from the Sombrero Galaxy! The light that we see from it today and in this photo started on its way here long before we came down from the trees. It is so far away that if we were already at a place in space where it looked to our naked eye as large as it does in this photo, and we then sped towards it in our fastest rocket, after one million years of traveling towards it at that speed—it would not appear any larger!