A Coal Sack Among the Jewels

Duncan Waldron

Camira, Australia

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Artist's Description

Just acquired an Epson printer/scanner from an op shop, and was delighted to find it has film scanning capability. Quality’s not quite as good as a dedicated unit, but pretty good all the same. So, I’ve been going back through some old negs and slides, and here’s one of the first through.

The Coal Sack is a dark dust cloud near the Southern Cross. It obscures the light of the Milky Way beyond it, giving rise to the appearance of a hole in the mass of background stars. Called the Coal Sack by early European astronomers, it is also known as the head of the Emu according to Aboriginal sky lore.

This image is a time exposure (approximately 10 minutes), and shows the stars trailing across the film as they apparently revolve around the South Celestial Pole – although it is actually the Earth’s rotation on its axis that gives the appearance of the stars’ movement. It is easy to see in this image that the stars are a variety of colours, from bluish to yellowish; the bluer the star, the hotter it is. Also visible are a few pink areas in the Milky Way, where new stars may be forming in the glowing nebulae of hydrogen gas.

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Image Copyright Duncan Waldron © 2008
This image may not be reproduced without permission
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Artwork Comments

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