17 November 2014

The light backward

When we see images of distant stars and galaxies we look far back in time.  It is an extraordinary and rather wonderful fact, but also alien from normal experience.

Looking at this image of 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko is different.  Because light reflected off the comet takes only about half an hour to reach the Earth we are seeing it almost as it is in real time – that is, in the time of actual lived experience.

We see a degree of detail so far unrealised for such a distant object – albeit one that is of course vastly closer than any star.

We see a strange mini-world with terrain imaginable for human feet.

Image: ESA

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