A color sugar maple lights up the roadside along County H near Webb Lake, Wis. Saturday afternoon. Bob King
I attended a star party in Wisconsin this past weekend during the prime of the fall color season. On the way down I pulled the car over more than once to take photos of the breathtaking maples and oaks set among dark pines. Our eyes delight in natural color. It gets a little motor spinning in the brain. Bright colors in nature jump out from the norm of brown, white, gray and green. And the more vivid and intense the hues the greater our delight.
Looking at photos of nebulas and galaxies we’re similarly struck by the incredible reds and greens of nebulae, the pink knots of star formation in a galaxy’s spiral arms and blue hues of starlight reflected in cosmic dust. But in real life, when gazing through a telescopes, these colors are nearly always absent. Almost everything appears in shades of gray even in larger amateur telescopes that most of us can’t afford.
The Orion Nebula, located about 1,500 light years from Earth, is home to many hundreds of newborn stars created from clumps of gas and dust ...