Astonishing X-ray image of the whole sky

NASA released this incredible image of the sky that depicts 22 months of X-ray data captured from the International Space Station using the Neutron star Interior Composition Explorer (NICER). From NASA:

“Even with minimal processing, this image reveals the Cygnus Loop, a supernova remnant about 90 light-years across and thought to be 5,000 to 8,000 years old,” said Keith Gendreau, the mission’s principal investigator at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. “We’re gradually building up a new X-ray image of the whole sky, and it’s possible NICER’s nighttime sweeps will uncover previously unknown sources.”

NICER’s primary mission is to determine the size of dense remains of dead stars called neutron stars — some of which we see as pulsars — to a precision of 5%. These measurements will finally allow physicists to solve the mystery of what form of matter exists in their incredibly compressed cores. Pulsars, rapidly spinning neutron stars that appear to “pulse” bright light, are ideally suited to this “mass-radius” research and are some of NICER’s regular targets.

Other frequently visited pulsars are studied as part of NICER's Station Explorer for X-ray Timing and Navigation Technology (SEXTANT) experiment, which uses the precise timing of pulsar X-ray pulses to autonomously determine NICER’s position and speed in space. It’s essentially a galactic GPS system. When mature, this technology will enable spacecraft to navigate themselves throughout the solar system — and beyond.

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Beautiful book, augmented reality, and film about stunning rocket launches

In the realm of rocket geeks and space nerds, filmmakers MaryLiz Bender and Ryan Chylinski have dream jobs. The pair have the equivalent of "backstage passes" to SpaceX, NASA and ULA rocket launches where they capture and share breathtaking videos that convey the power, risk, and thrill of space exploration. The work of their studio, called Cosmic Perspective, is visceral, wondrous, and inspiring. Now Bender and Chylinski are creating a fascinating art book enhanced with augmented reality along with a companion short film "documenting humanity's grand adventure to space." Titled "Guidance Internal: Lessons from Astronauts," the book, film, and their touring Cosmic Perspective show lies at the intersection of science and art "to inspire hope, elevate empathy, and bring people together." They've launched a Kickstarter to support the project and it looks, well, stellar.

From Kickstarter:

The art and the pages in this book come to life immediately teleporting you to rocket launch pads, directly to our intimate interviews with astronauts and the people sending missions to space. We fuse art with science blending our love of high-dynamic range photography with compelling video to capture the emotion, excitement, and gravity of these events. We also give you a front-row seat to transformative performances by artists inspired by these experiences.

We place autonomous high-resolution and ultra-high speed video cameras at the launchpads of SpaceX, NASA, and ULA. These are cameras we place well ahead of the liftoff, design to survive the elements and, since no humans can be anywhere near the rockets, trigger without any human interaction.

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Bizarre family selfie in which half of man's body has vanished

Reddit user BeardoGREG shared this unusual selfie of his family. I was mightily confused until one commenter explained it: "You were shot out of a cannon. The cannon is behind you and you are flying straight into the camera with that determined look on your face."

(r/confusing_perspective) Read the rest

Vintage found photos of robots

Esteemed collector of vernacular photography Robert E. Jackson curated this delightful collection of snapshots depicting the history of our robotic future. See more: "15 Fabulous Vintage Snapshots Of Robots"

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Strange and lovely music video generated from user-contributed imagery

Neuhaus.world is a music video for Rotterdam artist Jo Goes Hunting in which the hyperdelic landscape in the video is generated by photos contributed by visitors to the site.

"The video is made by Moniker in conjunction with Neuhaus, a temporary academy for more-than-human knowledge at Het Nieuwe Instituut."

Neuhaus.world (via Waxy)

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Incredible clip of Shaolin Kung Fu seen from above

From the BBC's "Earth from Space" series.

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Ingenious DIY Etch-A-Sketch digital camera

Martin Fitzpatrick built the Etch-A-Snap, a digital camera with an automated Pocket Etch-A-Sketch as its display on the back. Each photo takes between 15 minutes to one hour to be sketched. From Two Bit Arcade:

Photos are processed down to 240x144 pixel 1-bit (black & white) line drawings using Pillow and OpenCV and then translated into plotter commands by building a network graph representation with networkx. The Etch-A-Sketch wheels are driven by two 5V stepper motors mounted into a custom 3D printed frame. The Etch-A-Snap is entirely portable and powered by 4xAA batteries & 3x18650 LiPo cells.

Find links to the plans and code here: "Etch-A-Snap: The Raspberry Pi powered Etch-A-Sketch camera" (Two Bit Arcade)

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Watch the fantastic "Bullet Time" results of this high-speed camera array

Tesla500 rigged an array of 48 high-speed cameras "capable of recording 68 gigapixels per second - 720p at 72000fps!"

Bullet Time meets Moore's Law.

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Stunning photo of the media reflected in Trump's eyes

No, not that one above -- that's an iconic still from 'Blade Runner,' which today's Trump shot reminds me of.

Below, a jaw-dropping photograph from Associated Press photographer Pablo Martínez on Twitter. Read the rest

Dig this psychedelic squirrel's rainbow look

Photographer Kaushik Vijayan snapped beautiful shots of rainbow-colored Malabar giant squirrels in the Pathanamthitta District in Kerala, Southern India.

"I felt so amazed by how drop-dead gorgeous it looked," he told CBS News.

While University of Miami evolutionary biologist Dana Krempels was quoted in National Geographic suggesting that someone may have jacked up the color intensity of the photos, the squirrels do have far-out purple coloring. From Nat Geo:

The squirrel’s purple patterns likely play some sort of role as camouflage. This is because the broadleaf forests these squirrels inhabit create a “mosaic of sun flecks and dark, shaded areas"—not unlike the rodents’ markings, (according to University of Arizona conservation biologist John Koprowski, author of Squirrels of the World.)

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This photographer shot the birth of her own child

Megan Mattiuzzo, a professional wedding photographer, had a baby last month. She wanted to document the wonder of her child's birth and she knew that if you want something done right, you do it yourself.

“I’m used to capturing moments that you can’t retake,” Mattiuzzo tells PetaPixel. “So when I found out I was pregnant, I knew that I wanted to capture my son’s first breath, first moments, seeing his face for the first time...

“Due to a failed epidural that was not 100% effective, I was able to feel the right side of my body and a spot on my left abdomen,” Mattiuzzo says. “When it was time to start pushing, my husband [Ryan]’s job was to hand [the camera] to me when it was time for the last push...

“I took the camera and tucked my chin to my chest, rested the camera on my stomach, pulled my head to the viewfinder, and started pushing,” she says. “I then saw a moment I will never forget… my son’s hair… then his head… then his body… all while shooting. It was the most amazing moment of my life.”

More at PetaPixel: "This Photographer Shot Her Own Childbirth"

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The Family Acid: California, a far-out photo album from a very unconventional family

For more than 50 years, photographer Roger Steffens has explored the electric arteries of the counterculture, embracing mind-expanding experiences, deep social connection, and unadulterated fun at every turn. After serving in Vietnam at the end of the 1960s, Steffens immersed himself in California’s vibrant bohemia. With his wife Mary and children Kate and Devon, he sought out the eccentric, the outlandish, and the transcendent. Just as often, it found him, grinning, a camera in one hand and a joint in the other.  

My Ozma Records partner Tim Daly and I are honored to share with you this new collection of Steffens’ spectacular snapshots taken between 1968 and 2015 during the foursome’s freewheeling adventures throughout the visionary state they call home. Think of it as a family album belonging to a very unconventional family. 

This is The Family Acid: California.

Based in Los Angeles, the Steffens family traveled up and down the West Coast, from the wilds of Death Valley and reggae festivals in Humboldt to fiery protests in Berkeley and the ancient redwoods of Big Sur. Along the way, they’d rendezvous with friends like Bob Marley, Timothy Leary, and war photographer Tim Page, the inspiration for Dennis Hopper’s character in Apocalypse Now. They’d take in the wonders of nature and, of course, the adults would occasionally lose their minds in psychoactive celebrations of creativity, freedom, and hope.   

The Family Acid: California is a 192-page, large format book manufactured with the finest materials and attention to design as you've come to expect from Ozma Records, producers of the Voyager Golden Record: 40th Anniversary Edition. Read the rest

An astounding gigapixel panorama of Paris affords "an eyeful of the Eiffel"

[Editor's note: Gigapixel panorama impressario Jeffrey Martin (previously) offers us "an eye full from Eiffel" in this astounding gigapixel pano of Paris -Cory]

I shot this gigapixel photo in autumn 2018 from the top of the Eiffel Tower. Using an SLR camera and a variety of telephoto lenses, I shot a few thousand photos from both levels of the Eiffel Tower. The image you see here was shot from the top level, and you can actually see the Eiffel Tower itself in the image. Read the rest

White bats chilling out peacefully in their leaf tent

Honduran white bats in their tent made out of leaves. Read the rest

How to turn a chocolate easter egg into a pinhole camera

In this delightful project, Will Gudgeon turned a frozen chocolate easter egg into a fun and effective pinhole camera. The first step is to eat the contents. "The main challenges were it melting, cracking and light leaks around the seal," Gudgeon writes.

"How to Make a Pinhole Camera Out of a Chocolate Easter Egg" (PetaPixel)

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Absolutely spectacular first-ever air-to-air images of supersonic jets' shockwaves interacting

For a decade, NASA scientists have worked on an air-to-air photographic technology that will be used to collect data for the agency's next-generation supersonic airplane project. They've just released these absolutely astonishing "first air-to-air images of supersonic shockwave interaction in flight."

“We never dreamt that it would be this clear, this beautiful," says NASA scientist J.T. Heineck.

From NASA:

The images feature a pair of T-38s from the U.S. Air Force Test Pilot School at Edwards Air Force Base, flying in formation at supersonic speeds. The T-38s are flying approximately 30 feet away from each other, with the trailing aircraft flying about 10 feet lower than the leading T-38. With exceptional clarity, the flow of the shock waves from both aircraft is seen, and for the first time, the interaction of the shocks can be seen in flight.

“We’re looking at a supersonic flow, which is why we’re getting these shockwaves,” said Neal Smith, a research engineer with AerospaceComputing Inc. at NASA Ames’ fluid mechanics laboratory.

“What’s interesting is, if you look at the rear T-38, you see these shocks kind of interact in a curve,” he said. “This is because the trailing T-38 is flying in the wake of the leading aircraft, so the shocks are going to be shaped differently. This data is really going to help us advance our understanding of how these shocks interact...”

While NASA has previously used the schlieren photography technique to study shockwaves, the AirBOS 4 flights featured an upgraded version of the previous airborne schlieren systems, allowing researchers to capture three times the amount of data in the same amount of time.

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How to make your own camera lens from sand and rocks

Andy George made his own camera lens with borax, river sand, and soda ash. From PetaPixel:

“It has been one of the most challenging projects I’ve ever done,” George says after completing his lens. “Every single step in the project has been a huge pain.”

Making clear glass took over a dozen tries, annealing the glass pucks took at least four attempts, and grinding the lenses themselves took at least 30 hours of continuous grinding.

Sure, the lens is cloudy and, er, imperfect, but HE MADE HIS OWN DAMN CAMERA LENS FROM SCRATCH!

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