I often look up in awe at the wonder of the night sky and the millions of stars and say to myself “ffs, someone has nicked my fucking roof!” 😁
I’ve had a keen interest in photography for several years now, so being able to combine it with my interest in astronomy was always something I was keen to try. However, as good as the camera hardware and technology is on the smartphones I have used, they are not particularly suitable for capturing celestial bodies light years away.
“Are stars just pinholes in the curtain of night? Who knows?”
Sean Connery as Ramirez from Highlander (1986)
I find it helps to say the above quote in a Scottish accent, but no Mr. Connery, stars are not pinholes in the curtain of night. Stars are luminous balls of gas. Most notably hydrogen and helium which have the lowest atomic mass of the elements on the Periodic Table. A star is born (great movie…proper tear-jerker) when matter-rich molecular clouds, or nebulae collapse due to gravitational forces. This triggers nuclear fusion reactions where, in simplistic terms hydrogen atoms are converted to helium atoms. Immense amounts of energy and pressure are forced outwards. If the inward pulling gravitational force remains equal, the star will have stability.
Life on Earth is made possible due to the energy released during fusion reactions on the Sun. In slightly more detail than above, two hydrogen atoms fuse together to form an isotope of hydrogen called deuterium. Another hydrogen atom is fused to the deuterium isotope which creates the helium – 3He isotope. Further fusion between two 3He nuclei creates a single helium – 4He isotope. This exothermic reaction creates tremendous amounts of energy, which in turn sustains life on a little blue dot around 150,000,000 km, or 1.5 x 108 km away!