Photographing the Oort Cloud

About 100,000 astronomical units* from the sun there’s likely to exist a belt of icy objects astronomers call the Oort Cloud. The Voyager spacecraft is heading out there but it’s gonna take about 300 years to reach there.

When a photon leaves the sun it takes about 1 ½ years to reach an object in the Oort Cloud. That’s a damn long way. So a photographer standing on a comet in the Oort Cloud has to take at least a 1 ½ year exposure in order to picture what is happening right “now”. I’m not sure what the word now means in such a context. But that’s a super long exposure – make sure your tripod is really steady.

This image reflects my understanding of how the Oort Cloud might look from an extreme distance. It also gives some insight as to how chaos looks – chaos in the mathematical sense. Photographing the results of chaotic behavior is easy though. Go outside your workplace on a dry winter day, a day or two after a snowfall. Search for that place on the sidewalk where rock salt has melted away the ice. Make an exposure on your digital camera. Import the image into Photoshop and add a black and white filter layer. Then add extreme contrast using the legacy feature of contrast layers. The result is an approximation of what god sees when s/he looks down on the Oort Cloud. You are now a creator.

*one astronomical unit is the distance from the earth to the sun