Home Making Music and Dance Out of Stars

Making Music and Dance Out of Stars

The night sky has inspired people to create from the moment we as a species could see it above us. Shamans, poets, story-tellers and painters have been impelled to translate what they saw, or how they felt, as the vast bowl of the starry sky turned over them.

Nothing’s changed except the technology available to do so and the avenues we have to share what we’ve made with each other. So on this Sunday evening, I’d like to share with you two high-tech, high-art versions of the night sky.

The read/write Web, and other connective technologies, have allowed scientists the ability to do more in shorter time periods and to share what they have done with each other and with the public; in turn they receive information back, from answers to difficult questions to different interpretations of data to simple encouragement to questions that produce opportunities to teach.

At the same time, the impulse to use the information they have collected to create artistic interpretations of the data, and the feelings that apprehending that data creates in the observer, is powerful. Art is too important, in a sense, to be left to artists. Art inflects, sometimes creates, our vocabulary of comprehension; the natural world changes us, we change how we see the natural world. So I would be very interested in how you see the stars, and what (aside from eyes) you see it with. Leave us a comment if you’d like. But mostly, enjoy

Supernova Sonata

The Supernova Sonata was created by Alex Parker and Melissa Graham via data from the Canada France Hawaii Telescope from April 2003 through August 2006.

“(T)hey gave each supernova a note to play, the volume of the note determined by the distance to the supernova. Fainter, more distant supernovae play quieter notes. Each note’s pitch was based on a stretch factor measured by how fast the supernova brightens and fades over time…Supernovae in massive galaxies were assigned to a stand-up bass, while supernovae in less massive galaxies played their note on a grand piano.”

Stellar Dance

Stephane Guisard and Jose Francisco Salgado at the European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope in Chile’s Atacama Desert captured this time-lapse footage of the night sky in the southern hemisphere. The stars move across the sky, the sky across the earth’s horizon, like dancers across a stage.

Supernova photo via NASA Goddard | other sources: io9, PopSci

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