Holst’s Planet Suite

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I’m watching a programme, late at night, with Holst’s planet suite. But it’s also got Professor Brian Cox, a famous astronomer, who is explaining details about the planets. During each section there are beautiful images of each of the planets, now they are showing multi cratered Mercury. If you have never heard the Planet Suite I would recommend it. The music is sublime, lyrical, atmospheric, full of complexity and confident, in turns loud and soft, discord and soaring melodies wrap into and around each other. There are sections covering rising octaves, then dropping down to gentle breezes of notes.

Jupiter is the next planet, and he is explaining the atmosphere and the poles of the planet. Its exactly the sort of programme I love, art, creativity and science mingled together.

If you can find it on the BBC iplayer I would recommend watching it.

Starry

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I’ve been making patterns again, this time using a close up of sequins on my jumper… Very random I know.

The stiches  on the jumper also add texture to the photo. I think the stars look like little dancing people holding hands.

I love stars and astronomy. I’m interested in things like the magnitude of stars, seeing comets, planets and asteroids. I read web pages like spaceweather.com which gives you information about CMEs (coronal mass ejections) from the Sun, which is caused by the sun’s magnetic lines of force getting tangled up and hurling out plasma from the sun’s surface.

If the weather is clear I will look out for meteor showers like the orionids or geminids (Based on the constellations they appear to emanate from).

I wish I lived in the southern hemisphere. I have heard of the magellanic clouds (small neighbouring satellite galaxies) which are below the plain of the ecliptic, which is the flat plain of our galaxy. Anything below that can only be seen from the south.

We (our planet) is topped at an angle of 22?degrees. So although we see constellations they vary with the seasons. They rise above the equator or sink below it depending on where we are in the year. If you sailed on a boat or flew on a plane at night you would see the constellations change as you flew north to South, or vice versa. Some constellations like the southern cross are only visible in the southern hemisphere and some like the plough or Great bear are only visible in the North.

I had a couple of little telescopes and once saw a tiny image of saturn and its rings and the galilean satellites of Jupiter – four moons that orbit Jupiter. There are more but are too small to see in a backyard telescope.

I’m no expert but I do like to learn. I’m sure there are lots of websites where you can find more information. Funny how I can ramble on after describing my jumper!

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Stars?

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No, this is a blurry picture of Venus, the Moon and Jupiter. Somewhere nearby was also Mars.

This was the view looking East from our house about 6am this morning.

You can’t see it but the sky was crystal clear and the planets and moon were twinkling behind the tree branches. My camera phone is good in low light levels but it has over exposed this. Add my hand shaking and it is not very clear. However it might make for an interesting painting.

There are various astronomy sites where you can find information about conjunctions of planets. I like the sky at night on the BBC. Also I have spaceweather.com on my mobile so I can see things like comets, auroras and near earth asteroids.

Our little solar system is tiny compared with the Galaxy and then the universe, but its quite an interesting place even so.

Older paintings

Some paintings I did are at my relatives house so I don’t see them very often. The painting I did of Jupiter is there. I do think it looks a bit “knitted”. I would love to do some paintings based on the latest images. I think that it would be very difficult to accurately copy the atmosphere of Jupiter.  Saturn’s rings would be equally difficult to render.

The other paintings are: a picure of our garden before it got madly overgrown. Two paintings of Bovisand, out over Plymouth sound and looking inland at the geology of the rocks. My husband standing under an old arch on the isle of Portland. A watercolour of a place called Jennycliff, which is on the south east side of Plymouth.

And finally a snow scene that I painted in the 1980’s. It was meant to represent the steppes and has Russian style onion domes in the background. I’m not sure where I got my idea from. I was reading Frank Herberts “Dune” trilogy at the time and I had never seen an image of the steppes…. But to me that’s part of what being an artist is about, pictures in your mind that you are trying to represent.

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Astronomical paintings

I love the challenge of trying to paint and draw astronomical objects. I have painted the Earth a few times, but also the Moon, the nebula shown here, Jupiter, and done digital drawings of the Earth and Moon, and the Veil Nebula plus other objects. I have also drawn Jupiter and Saturn.

I’m not an expert. They were all done without measuring the positions of features or stars, so for a real astronomer they probably look totally inaccurate. Still the universe is a wonderful place and the objects in it are amazing.

So if you can recommend an object I could have a go at painting I would be interested. I can’t promise it will be perfect. But I would have a go.

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