White blood cells

If you had said that it’s possible to see white blood cells with the naked eye, I wouldn’t have believed you. If you had somehow convinced me, I’d have then been impressed. But never would I have thought that it’s possible to see your own white blood cells in your own eye. Aye, ’tis true!

The blue field entoptic phenomenon is an entoptic phenomenon characterized by the appearance of tiny bright dots (nicknamed blue-sky sprites) moving quickly along undulating pathways in the visual field, especially when looking into bright blue light such as the sky.

~ Wikipedia from, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blue_field_entoptic_phenomenon

Is the takeaway here that you’ve just learned something? …or that wonders never cease? …or something else entirely?


The yellow bow tie in your eye

I mean it took 10 minutes sitting in a cafe staring at my laptop screen and repeatedly cocking my head back and forth, like an absolute goon, but I can see Haidinger’s brushes!

~ Matt Webb from, https://interconnected.org/home/2022/07/27/filtered

If you like what I’m doing, you’ll probably also like Webb’s Interconnected. I was skimming through, and spun off digging into optics and eyes and yellow bow ties. I’ve never (or I’ve completely forgotten) known about this before today. Like Webb, I was astounded to realize that I can see Haidinger’s brushes. It’s an optical phenomenon in the macula of the retina. Not everyone has the biology to see it, but with certain light coming into your eye this defect of our magnificent optical systems is revealed. Just when I think, “meh, what wonders could possibly be left…”


Eclipse photography 4/4

My previous post ( https://constantine.name/eclipse-photography-3-4/ ) is more philosophical.

This is simply one more for those in the back: “OMG! THIS WAS AWESOME!”

The main photo is just my 10 year old Cannon point-n-shoot. Which has just every so slightly better optics (including optical zoom) than my iPhone 5s. So the main photo is just optical zoom (shot off a tripod.) And the inset is a 4x digital blowup of the main photo. (No adjustments were added to the inset.) I’m not much of a photographer, and Astrophotography is a whole other kettle of fish I’m not prepared for. But we spent a few days preparing for what each of us would be fiddling with and trying so I had a plan for my little cameras and I got some terrific memories.

I hope you enjoyed these!


Eclipse photography 3/4

I will admit, when the cloud moved away just in time, all of nature grew silent, and the shadow of the moon arrived, I secretly wished someone had cued Also sprach Zarathustra.

The eclipse was magnificent and moving. Planning a year in advance, so that we could be standing directly in the path of the shadow cast by a celestial body 220,000 miles away… I can’t describe it. Moving. Exciting. Awe-inspiring. Fun! Getting to see and do cool science experiments you only read about. Sure, in celestial terms, our little moon’s shadow flits across our blue mote many MANY times. But I count myself among the lucky ones who took the time to align my life — even if ever so briefly — with these majestic orbs.


Eclipse photography 2/4

The mostly eclipsed solar disk is in the middle of this photo– just a bit above the center. Normally, at this stage of the eclipse, the partly exposed solar disk would cause retina damage if you look at it directly. But thanks to this cloud… ok, fine, yes, clouds don’t block UV light so looking at this is a BAD idea. I looked quickly. A few times. It was TOTALLY worth it. Here, you can look all you want, but you might need to zoom in a bit…

The entire eclipse was very “busy”. It was clear, then some clouds, then clear, a cloud… the viewing conditions changed second-by-second. Truly a rare event to see.



Two pano’s squeezed out the window. Diff exposures, no filters. Some distortion from jet bumps and window etc. Looking south. On far right you can see the ‘wedge’ of the Earth’s shadow projected up onto the lower edge of the sky. On the left you can see the southern side of the sunrise. From this altitude, you clearly get the sense of how this color “show” rotates around that south point in the middle of the photo; Like a two panel beach ball, with these spectacular colors where the two hemispheres meet. Of course, the sky and sun aren’t moving… ;) Flying westward this show lasted so much longer than when you are standing still.


North Atlantic and Mediterranean

Apropos of Veterans Day, here’s a dozen 35mm slides my father took in the North Atlantic and Mediterranean in 1965.