080317: Looking Out (and Looking Back)

Today’s opener was taken by NASA’s Cassini spacecraft last year. It has been exploring Saturn and many of its 62 moons since its arrival at Saturn in 2004. Currently the spacecraft is in the middle of its “Grand Finale,” as NASA refers to its ultimate and final stage – plunging into Saturn’s atmosphere next month on September 15. It has treated us to previously unimaginable sights and still has six more weeks of transmissions.

More on this image – https://photojournal.jpl.nasa.gov/catalog/PIA21046

Above are the first three drawings ever of Saturn and made by the observations of Galileo over 400 years ago. July 30,1610 was the first one (top) with slightly better results for the other two as he continually refined his telescopes.

We’ve come a long way – this pic taken from behind Saturn looks back at Earth (the dot center right). The beauty and importance of these and many other images, to me, cannot be understated.

More on this image – https://photojournal.jpl.nasa.gov/catalog/PIA17171

This trio of craters, also shot from Cassini, reside on Enceladus, one of Saturn’s moons.

More on this image – https://photojournal.jpl.nasa.gov/catalog/PIA20011

NASA’s image libraries are full of these wonderful and fascinating images and are all easily  accessible online.This one above is from the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter and shows part of Mars’ south pole.

More on this image – https://www.nasa.gov/image-feature/jpl/pia21639/erosion-of-the-edge-of-the-south-polar-layered-deposits

And last in this series is a picture of our own Grand Canyon taken from the International Space Station by a student controlled EarthKam camera!

More on this image – https://www.nasa.gov/image-feature/space-stations-earthkam-sees-the-grand-canyon

As I said, NASA has endless libraries worth perusing. Also, my favorite non-NASA sight you might want to visit is  Planetary Landscapes – daily posts of images from here on Earth and elsewhere!

One last note: Saturday, August 5, will be the fifth anniversary of the explorations begun by the Mars Rover. It continues to chug along the surface of the planet, sending back wonderful and astounding landscape images of Mars – Images – Mars Science Laboratory

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All this thought about outer space got me to break out my collection of pulp Sci-Fi magazines. The stories age great. The cover images make me dream of being aboard a spaceship exploring the wide universe. I think it’s my way of coping with the depressing news that we witness daily – especially the science related cutbacks, the dissolution of important government functions ranging from climate change to research of all kinds, etc.

The two  “Thrilling Wonder Stories” are from 1951 and 1952.

The three remaining magazines, “Amazing Stories,” are from 1947 and 1948.

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So, from the faraway future to the faraway past – I had to toss in a few new images of the very old – 387 million years ago (give or take a few mil!) – Devonian invertebrate fossils from the neighborhood.

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Science matters.

Thanks for the visit.

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121516: Year End 2016

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The heat is cranked high in my studio right now. Snow is coming down so thick that it obliterates any view out the windows. And, like a substantial portion of the country, we are bracing for a “deep freeze.” Not unusual, given that its the final days of the year.

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As I normally do at this time, my post includes a selection of images from the entire year past – a sort of review, if you will. In this case they are a variety that reflect on experiences encountered and hints at directions to come.

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The first three images are products of the Maine coast. The shells (above), washed ashore last Summer, made me think of all the many fossils (seen below and 6 to 20 million years old) I encountered earlier at the Museum of Natural History in Florence, Italy.

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Perhaps one of the most exciting experiences of my career was the interaction with that museum and its staff. I could never fully or properly express my gratitude for the opportunity to access many of their vast collections and to meet such an amazing group of dedicated professionals.

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“Captured” is the title of the above image, shot in the storage rooms of the Mammals Section. It is also currently on display for the remainder of the month at the Hyde Collection in Glens Falls, NY as part of the 80th Annual Mohawk-Hudson Regional Exhibition.

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From the Ornithology Collection

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Florence street scene (with shrine)

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In the rear of the Basilica di Santa Croce in Florence sits this funerary monument of Galileo Galilei. Directly across, on the opposite wall, sits the burial monument of Michelangelo, who died the day that Galileo was born. dsc01037_01print15_lr_12

I have always been fascinated with Galileo and the role he played in both world history and the history of science. This fascination has led to the image above, part of my ongoing  “Galileo” series.

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Fossils and lichen share the spotlight in this image where these deeply grounded objects combine to suggest the astronomical.

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Some fossils.

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Some lichen.                                                                                                                   (currently on view through December at the Woodstock Artist Assocciation and Museum)

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And a trifecta – fossils, lichen, and moss all rolled into one.

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These last two favorites – tree remains.

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With the holidays upon us, I’ll be taking a break and will be back in January. Best wishes to all of you for the upcoming year.

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072816: Abbreviated

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July heat, way too much time spent watching the conventions, and a new project all have played a role in this being a shortened, somewhat abbreviated post this week.The new project, a drawing/mixed media effort, has me pretty excited over possibilities. The opening image, which I have titled “Galileo’s Dream,” builds upon my recent drawing efforts over the past few years. More to come as time goes by.

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I have a handful of new fossil images to fill things out today and start with two versions of a mollusk fossil I found in central New York last year.

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Coral

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Two brachiopod images.

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And last for today, a pair of crinoid stems from my favorite neighborhood quarry.

Posts might be spotty for the next month or so, what with vacation and drawing competing for my time with the fossil process (finding and photographing). I am most fortunate to have these as my daily options.

Thanks for the visit.

0225: Santa Croce

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While I am not big on churches in general I must say that the Basilica of Santa Croce in Florence is a wonder to behold. Construction on it was begun in 1294 and it was consecrated in 1442. It is a thing of beauty. The walls are filled with stunning paintings, sculptures and frescos – work done by artists such as della Robbia, Donatello, Giotto, Gaddi, Vasari, and many more.

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Toward the rear of the church are numerous tombs running along the side walls. This one, pictured above, belongs to Galileo (which we visited the day after his birthday). It sits directly across from the site of Michelangelo’s tomb. An odd note of history – Galileo was born on the day of Michelangelo’s death. Many have said that, at the moment of Michelangelo’s death, his soul passed on to Galileo!

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Thanks to my never-ending interest in rocks and stones, while most visitors spent much of their time looking up, I often look down. The floor of the Basilica is a wonder of marble patterns and designs.

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The neighborhood surrounding Santa Croce is our favorite area to stay. Everything is only a short walk away. There is an irresistible charm that pervades.

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The local Sant’ Ambrogio  marketplace has all things fresh daily from meats and cheeses to pasta, bread and flowers. Much to my surprise, I even found fossil trilobites from Morocco on sale for a few euro each!

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On a drizzly day last week we were surprised to see the Piazza Santa Croce transformed. A large  area of the piazza (directly in front of the Basilica) was fenced off with 2-4 inches of sand covering the cobblestones and some hay bales along the sides. An Italian rodeo perhaps?! Rather, we soon found out that we were about to witness a game called “historic football.”

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As the story goes, the game’s origin traces back to Roman times and was played regularly by association teams. On February 17, 1530, the game was played in defiance of an impending attack on the city. To ridicule the enemy, the game went on – because nothing was going to get in the way of the Florentinian tradition. And so, annually, the game is played on that date. And we were lucky enough to stumble upon it.

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At first, following the opening pomp and ritual, we assumed it to be something akin to “Old Timers’ Day” with some lighthearted attempts at a game.

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We soon found out otherwise as the game was a brutal battle that all parties took very seriously. ( A local told us that teams had been forbidden from recruiting released convicts lest it become particularly nasty!).

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On a more civilized note – During the 1400s and 1500s this neighborhood was full of artists and artisans. It very much remains so to this day. Of the many artists who live and work here there is one fascinating and wonderful artist by the name of Paolo Carandini.

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Paolo designs and creates objects of wonder and fascination. With the talents of a skilled artisan and the soul of a poet he builds these objects with parchment, leather and various imagery that are  enigmatic, often filled with literary references, sometimes with whimsey, sometimes with cathartic power and implication. And, if that’s not enough, each of his objects are clever and stunning visually.

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Please visit his site – www.paolocarandini.com

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And, finally, some street art. I have always enjoyed seeking out the various street shrines in Florence, and particularly in this neighborhood, many of which have been in place for hundreds of years. So today I bring you one from just down the street…

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…and something obviously more contemporary!

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Thanks for the visit.

0108: A New Year Begins

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I needed to start this first post of the New Year (Happy New Year, by the way) with a blur of summer color – something to help me cope with the deep freeze that is currently plaguing much of the country. A small thing – especially given what others have to endure.

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Three hundred seventy two years ago today, in 1642, the brilliant Italian scientist Galileo Galilei died in his home in Florence, Italy. He had been sentenced to house arrest in 1633 by the Catholic Church for the crime of “vehement suspicion of heresy.” His “heresy” was the scientific conclusion that the Earth revolves around the Sun and not vice versa. Thirteen years, the last thirteen years of his life, were spent under house arrest – all because his thoughts and ideas were different than others.

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I have to wonder, as we start a new year, how much we have evolved.

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I’m trying to get back into the swing of things after a couple of weeks away. And I started with a return to my Devonian Drawer. It seemed to be time to revisit this project after a long hiatus. More to come hopefully.

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These seven images are all brachiopod fossils, or rather parts of brachiopods in some cases. Over 12,000 fossil species are recognized, thus the visual variety. And these are all roughly 385 million years old. I wonder what the Roman Inquisition would have done with that information.

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A couple of final notes – These two pieces, from my “Abstract/Concrete” series, have been chosen for an upcoming show at the GCCA Gallery in Catskill, NY. The show, entitled “EXTREME SURFACES,” is opening this Saturday. The reception will be held next Saturday January 17, 5pm – 7pm.

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The image below, entitled “The Navigator” has been chosen for the annual show at the Hudson Opera House in Hudson NY. The reception is scheduled for the same time as the GCCA show – 5pm – 7pm on the 17th as well. If you are in the area please drop by one or both venues.

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Thanks for the visit. Here’s one last image from warmer days.

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