h Phoenix Qi: November 2007

Thursday, November 1, 2007

God's Eye

Perhaps this topic is an appropriate coincidence for All Saint's Day!

I received an email recently with the above photo and the following message:

'This photo is a very rare one, taken by NASA. This kind of event occurs once in 3000 years.

'This photo has done miracles in many lives.

'Make a wish ... you have looked at the eye of God. Surely you will see the changes in your life within a day.

'Whether you believe it or not, don't keep this mail with you. Pass this at least to 7 persons.

'This is a picture NASA took with the Hubbell telescope called "The Eye of God."'

I'm all for wishing on a star, but here is the truth behind the God's Eye myth: First, it truly is a marvelous photo, but it's not an event that happens every 3,000 years, and it isn't called "The Eye of God."

It's a re-touched photo of the center of an hourglass nebula (called so because of its shape)…see photo below.

Very likely it was taken from the center of the MyCn18 nebula which has been sitting up in space, probably looking just like that for three-thousand years instead of once in 3,000 years. The original images of MyCn18 were taken by the Hubble telescope, and several are posted in various places online.

Here are links to some of the whole pictures of the nebula:





Here is a photo of the complete nebula from Astronomy Picture of the Day January 16, 1996 (Photo credit: R. Sahai and J. Trauger (JPL), WFPC2 Science Team, NASA)

Update July 3, 2009:

As the anonymous commenter said (if you read the comments), the first picture is of the Helix Nebula, NGC7293!

Here is an article on it at wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Helix_Nebula

And, another from Astronomy Picture of the Day that was not available at the time I first posted this article: http://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap090303.html

Thanks for your comment and for the correct information, Anonymous!