Within art's orbit

A Hubble retrospective - the skies as you've never seen them before. By Charles Arthur

Rather as Garry Kasparov found a worthy, if nonsentient chess opponent in the IBM computer Deep Blue, the wave of young artists rejecting oil painting in favour of digital manipulation have some serious competition from the orbiting Hubble Space Telescope. Today an exhibition opens at the Blue Gallery in London, showing a number of HST images blown up to more than a square metre. The attraction for gallery visitors lies just as much in their abstract form as their scientific content.

The collection of 13 images has been chosen from the hundreds taken by the HST. There is also a parallel exhibition of other HST images running at the Science Museum, in South Kensington, so that those who wish to take their fill of the abstract nature of the universe will find plenty to occupy them. As Arthur C Clarke, the famous British science-fiction writer, comments in a note to accompany the gallery exhibition, "First look and enjoy; later think about the implications."

But those unable or unwilling to travel to London will still find many of the images reproduced in high quality, with explanatory text in the book Universe in Focus: the story of the Hubble Telescope by Stuart Clark. This includes a history of the HST, as well as useful comparisons of images taken from the ground, and before and after its repair in December 1993. Hubble is now working near the theoretical limits of its instruments: we are seeing the universe, both near and distant, in more detail than ever before. And if any scientist is tempted to think that it lowers such work to display it as "art", it's worth reflecting that during the month that it lasts, the Blue Gallery's exhibition expects to draw 10 times more people than usual every dayn

The Blue Gallery is at 93 Walton St, London SW3. The exhibition runs until 19 July, with a parallel exhibition at the Science Museum.

"Universe in Focus: the story of the Hubble Telescope" by Stuart Clark is priced pounds 16.99 from Cassell, ISBN 0-304-34945-3.

The methane atmosphere of Neptune (left) absorbs red and infrared light, leading it to appear blue in this pair of images showing the weather on its opposite hemispheres. Clouds raised above most of the methane appear white, while the very highest clouds are yellow-red (the top of the right image). The green belt towards the south shows an area where the atmosphere absorbs blue light. The two images were taken over one rotation of Neptune, lasting just over 16 hours.

All photographs: Nasa

A sequence of 10 false-colour images of Saturn and its rings (right- hand page) shows a number of the gas giant's small moons. The images are paired, left and right. Note that a pair of stars passes behind the rings during the sequence, becoming visible on their own in the ninth frame. In the rest of the sequence, the moons Dione, Pandora, Prometheus, Mimas, Rhea and Epimetheus all emerge from behind the ring before disappearing again during the orbit. The pictures were taken by Hubble as it orbited the Earth, taking one pair every 97 minutes.

False colours can be useful. The rings around Uranus are not really white, but as black as charcoal. This infrared image, viewing the planet from its south pole, shows three layers of Uranus's atmosphere, composed of hydrogen and methane. The effect of the imaging is like looking at the edge of a soap bubble. The deepest layer is the blue, near the top, showing a clear atmosphere; the next layer is the yellow one, a methane- hydrogen haze. The pink ring is high-altitude haze around the planet's equator.

The Hubble Deep Field is a look as far away as seems possible: to the visible horizon of the universe. A number of the distant galaxies here are about 13 billion light years away, and so faint that they are nearly four billion times dimmer than can be seen with human vision. This true-colour image was built up from 276 separate exposures over 10 days. Its value to astronomers is in the clues it contains about the way that galaxies and stars form.

Life and Style
tech
Sport
Farah returns to the track with something to prove
Commonwealth games
News
John Barrowman kisses his male “bride” at a mock Gretna Green during the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony
peopleBarrowman's opening ceremony message to Commonwealth countries where he would be sent to prison for being gay
Voices
voicesGood for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, writes Grace Dent
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Sport
Shinji Kagawa and Reece James celebrate after the latter scores in Manchester United's 7-0 victory over LA Galaxy
football
Arts and Entertainment
The Tour de France peloton rides over a bridge on the Grinton Moor, Yorkshire, earlier this month
film
Life and Style
fashion Designs are part of feminist art project by a British student
News
Very tasty: Vladimir Putin dining alone, perhaps sensibly
news
Life and Style
Listen here: Apple EarPods offer an alternative
techAre custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?
Arts and Entertainment
Top guns: Cole advised the makers of Second World War film Fury, starring Brad Pitt
filmLt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a uniform
News
Snoop Dogg pictured at The Hollywood Reporter Nominees' Night in February, 2013
people... says Snoop Dogg
News
The University of California study monitored the reaction of 36 dogs
sciencePets' range of emotions revealed
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from Shakespeare in Love at the Noel Coward Theatre
theatreReview: Shakespeare in Love has moments of sheer stage poetry mixed with effervescent fun
News
Joining forces: young British men feature in an Isis video in which they urge Islamists in the West to join them in Iraq and Syria
newsWill the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?
Arts and Entertainment
The nomination of 'The Wake' by Paul Kingsnorth has caused a stir
books
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Media

DBA

£40000 - £55000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: DBA, London,...

Web / Digital Analyst - SiteCatalyst or Google Analytics

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: My client who are a leading publisher in...

Data Scientist

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: A data analytics are currently looking t...

Graduate Sales Executive

17.5k + Commission (£18.5k after probation period): ESI Media: You will be res...

Day In a Page

Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

Meet the US Army's shooting star

Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform
Climate change threatens to make the antarctic fur seal extinct

Take a good look while you can

How climate change could wipe out this seal
Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier for the terminally ill?

Farewell, my lovely

Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier?
Man Booker Prize 2014 longlist: Crowdfunded novel nominated for first time

Crowdfunded novel nominated for Booker Prize

Paul Kingsnorth's 'The Wake' is in contention for the prestigious award
Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster to ensure his meals aren't poisoned

Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster

John Walsh salutes those brave souls who have, throughout history, put their knives on the line
Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

A $25m thriller starring Sam Worthington to be made in God's Own Country
Will The Minerva Project - the first 'elite' American university to be launched in a century - change the face of higher learning?

Will The Minerva Project change the face of higher learning?

The university has no lecture halls, no debating societies, no sports teams and no fraternities. Instead, the 33 students who have made the cut at Minerva, will travel the world and change the face of higher learning
The 10 best pedicure products

Feet treat: 10 best pedicure products

Bags packed and all prepped for holidays, but feet in a state? Get them flip-flop-ready with our pick of the items for a DIY treatment
Commonwealth Games 2014: Great Scots! Planes and pipers welcome in Glasgow's Games

Commonwealth Games 2014

Great Scots! Planes and pipers welcome in Glasgow's Games
Jack Pitt-Brooke: Manchester City and Patrick Vieira make the right stand on racism

Jack Pitt-Brooke

Manchester City and Patrick Vieira make the right stand on racism
How Terry Newton tragedy made iron men seek help to tackle their psychological demons

How Newton tragedy made iron men seek help to tackle their psychological demons

Over a hundred rugby league players have contacted clinic to deal with mental challenges of game