Did you know that something called a red sprite occurs when there’s a thunderstorm — vast, brief, a glowing red jellyfish? We’ll never see one from earth because it’s far above the thunderclouds. You may have been flown around one of those white towers by a prudent pilot. They’re high. And yet insignificant compared to the supra-stratospheric altitude of the red sprite. As you can see in the illustration below.
Upperatmoslight1 by Abestrobi via Wikipedia
Every artist has a world that their art feeds from. Some artists ski, make beer, raise canaries, haunt the cinemas. For me it’s science, the deepness of the world, the red sprites that humans never knew about, until…
I may never see one but it’s added to my gallery of optical effects on Planet Earth.
This pair of photos fill me with a sense of wonderment. They’re from a beautifully crafted and informative website, Atmospheric Optics. I recommend a stroll through it if you’re ever feeling jaded.
depicting the heiligenschein or glory effect via Atmospheric Optics
Who’d imagine there’s a visual that goes with a sonic boom?
A vapor cone blooms around an F-22 Raptor as it races through humid air during a supersonic flyby. Photo: Ronald Dejarnett, U.S. Navy via the National Geographic Magazine blog
These things are precious to me. I don’t make art about them but they fill me in a way that nothing else can. Archaeologists study old specimens with new technologies and discover the once unknowable in dusty drawers. Is this not breath-taking? When I was growing up dinosaurs were these reptile-skinned colorless behemoths and now we know that many of them were feathered. Scientists are beginning to make educated guesses about colors and plumage patterns.
Anyone who advocated 200 years ago for such things would have been a charlatan but now we have the tools. To begin decoding chemicals in fossilized feathers. To identify the pigment eumelanin, a pigment still active today in those of us with brown eyes, brown hair.
Scientific rendering of what the dinosaur A. huxleyl may have looked like alive millions of years ago. via Wired Science
These facts of our majestic piece of blue and green world fill my heart, my psyche. This for me is where art comes from. And though my images are full of bizarre beings and abstractions they come from me, and me is unthinkable without this thirst.
The artist in me reviews this post and notes how well the images of heiligenschein and sonic boom comport together, and how aptly the sonic boom and imagined bird make visual sense.