Still Learning To See

Immense and mysterious

My post today is a bit longer than usual but in it I travel an immense distance into the mysterious. I hope you’ll stick with me.

Last year I made a photograph of a lovely little spring flower in my garden:


As I was processing it in software, I noticed the small yellow dot and enlarged it to see what it was.


It looked like pollen but seeing more closely it was clear pollen doesn’t have legs!



I don’t have any idea who this little creature is, perhaps a aphid of some sort! But just naming it is nothing compared to understanding the mystery I’m seeing. I’d bet, given what I do know about the natural world, that there are even smaller creatures living on this one.

Jump from a plant to a planet! Last week millions of people all around our big world cheered the amazing photographs coming back from Pluto. What a feat! To so clearly see an object that for centuries was unknown and for my lifetime was seen as little more than a fuzzy ball—astonishing! Our solar system “enlarged” under our very eyes.

Now let’s get into a time warp. My friend, Oz, a space devotee, sent a series of pictures (I’m sorry I don’t know the original source) that really brings me and our “big” world—and Pluto and the aphid on the flower—all into sharp focus. The first image shows Jupiter on the left. It is more than ten times the size of our Earth. Compare that to the orange Sun and, on the right, the star Sirius.

1 Proporzioni-pianeti-e-stelle-03-Giove-Wolf-359-Sole-Sirio-450x267The next image shows Sirius on the left and compares it in size to other Celestial bodies:

2 Proporzioni-pianeti-e-stelle-04-Sirio-Pollux-Arcturus-Aldebaran-450x230Once again we make a leap in time-space and compare Aldebaran, which previously looked so huge, to more space “objects,” the names of which, like the little aphid, I barely even know:

3 Proporzioni-pianeti-e-stelle-05-Aldebaran-Rigel-Betelgeuse-Antares-450x188And now Antares appears on the left compared to three more stars that are beyond imaging for my peewee little brain.


Whenever I think I know something about the immense mystery of life, I’ll remember this last image in the series and try to relate it back to the first and Pluto and the flower and the aphid and…so on and so forth.

Thanks for enjoying the mystery with me.



This entry was published on July 18, 2015 at 8:40 am. It’s filed under Flowers, John Snell, John Snell Photographer, Vermont and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

6 thoughts on “Immense and mysterious

  1. Julia on said:

    I love how your mind makes these wonderful connections–how full of awe the universe is, and how lucky to have someone like you to remind us 🙂 Thanks so very much–

  2. CIndy on said:

    So nice to get these little reminders others stop to consider life’s mysteries and beauties – big and small. This is about as big and as small as I’ve ever seen discussed in one place. Love the visual comparisons! You are an interesting man, John. 🙂 Thank you!

  3. it is really neat to find the small critters in a photo, that’s happened to me too. here’s link to youtube version of 1977 videotape “The Power of Ten.” It’s old and kind of funky but it does a zoom up and then zoom in to give us idea of our place relative size in the universe.

    • Julia on said:

      Loved the Powers of Ten back in my teaching career–Amazon has the book, a DVD, and a flipbook 🙂 It was when the film went INSIDE that I was most amazed!

  4. Those size comparisons are staggering – beyond imagination in many ways. It make us seem so insignificant – really. By comparison, we’re tinier than the little aphid, and infinitely smaller when compared to those stars. I can only relate to it by thinking of the Infinite Designer that’s creating all this – for our fascination and entertainment!

  5. Oz – that video is amazing. Again – mind boggling.

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