Thursday, January 15, 2009

Running Bird

Click on the image to see a large version
The astrophoto you see above commonly goes by the name "Running Man", but I always see this as a bird with running legs as outlined below. Actually, it is a huge cloud of dust and gas in the constellation Orion. It is blue because of starlight reflected off the small dust particles, similar to sunlight reflecting off the earth's atmosphere making it blue.
Seeing shapes in clouds is fun, and I'm sure everyone has done this, but did you know there is a name for this. It's called nephelococcygia. It comes from a play written a very long time ago. The play, “The Birds”, was written by a Greek comic poet, Aristophanes, in 414 B.C. The characters in this play are birds. They are looking at the clouds and seeing the different shapes they make. Another character in the play calls them crazy for doing such a thing. So, nephelococcygia literally means “cloud cuckooland”. Now it means to look for changing shapes and transformation in clouds. I found a website for nephelococcygiaites (gosh, is that a word) that is full of great images and information for cloud lovers:
The Running Man (Bird) image was taken on October 30, 2008, with my 10" f/5.5 newtonian (1397mm focal length) and my Canon XTi. Ten images, 5 minutes exposure each, were processed in DeepSkyStacker and Photoshop.

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