galaxy far, far away A long time ago

A Closing Look
A long time ago
in a
far, far away
Beneath night’s canopy, the vastness of space surrounds, awe-inspiring and ancient and
enduring. Or not so enduring. On this night, an instant has traveled across 126 million
trillion miles, a supernova brighter than 100 billion stars. Ages en route, the massive
flash from the cataclysmic event passes by Earth in a relative blink, visible for only brief
weeks and then gone. Gone, but not forgotten by the students in the college’s “Night
Sky” class, who had a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to witness the dramatic end, and to
preserve the historic moment on film. (Photographed in the Harry F. Frissel Observatory
in September, Supernova PTF 11kly shines as the brightest star in the lower-right
quadrant of the image above. It is a part of pinwheel galaxy M101; located in the galaxy’s
outer spiral, it is as dominant as the galaxy’s star-filled core, pictured at center.)
December 2011