IAU International Year of Astronomy
 A 
Français

ROCKS & STARDUST
Press Release
Previously at the Canadian Museum of Nature, the UNESCO Natural Heritage Site at Miguasha, Quebec and other venues, the exhibit has proven to be a successful combination of science and art, geology and astronomy, text and imagery. Through photography, plain text and maps, the exhibit brings to life the wonderful colours and patterns of rocks and tells the story of the origin of the elements, the solar system and life on Earth - in other words, our cosmic origins.
"Fantastic colours and shapes." "Good mix of beauty and science." "Wicked." "Very educational." "Cool."

Canadian Museum of Nature - arts and science museum exhibit Miguasha Museum entrance - arts and science museum exhibit Ecomusee - arts and science museum exhibit
Miguasha Museum - arts and science museum exhibit National Capital Commission image detail - arts and science museum exhibit Canadian Museum of Nature detail (option) - arts and science museum exhibit
National Capital Commission detail - arts and science museum exhibit Miguasha Museum detail - arts and science museum exhibit National Capital Commission rock detail - arts and science museum exhibit

Rental (3 months): $3,000
Purchase, exclusive rights: $200,000
For details please see tour.html

Reference documents (PDF):
Overview in colour (1 MB)
Letter to institutions and prices (112 k)

Installation Guide and space requirements (376 k)
Cost evaluation (212 k)

  1. PORTA      2. PETRA   3. ASTRA    4. SOLA      5. COSMA   6. TERRA     7. FINA
 
What do you think?


 
samples from the 50 images in the exhibit

click to enlarge

NASA AND THE HUBBLE HERITAGE TEAM (STSCI/AURA) Spiral galaxy NGC 4414 : 62 million light years - arts and science museum exhibit

Gatineau Park, Quebec, Canada - Moon over Pink Lake - arts and science museum exhibit

Gatineau Park, Quebec, Canada -lichen and rock - arts and science museum exhibit

Precambrian Shield world map (The Changing Earth, Mears, Jr., 1977) - arts and science museum exhibit
 

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

Natural Resources Canada  nrcan.gc.ca
Space Physics Research Laboratory www.windows.ucar.edu
Space Telescope Science Institute www.stsci.edu

 Peter Geldart
curator, photographer

Hubert Reeves
astrophysicist, advisor French text.

 John Barrow , astronomer, Frank Tipler, physicist: The Anthropic Cosmological Principle.  David Darling, astronomer: Deep Time. Armand Delsemme, cosmologist, University of Toledo: Our Cosmic Origins.   Don Hogarth, geologist, University of Ottawa.  John Leslie , cosmologist, University of Guelph: Universes.  Rob Rainbird, scientist, Geological Survey of Canada.  Martin Rees, Astronomer Royal, U.K.: Before the Beginning. Hubert Reeves, astrophysicist, Université de Montréal & CNRS, Paris: La plus belle histoire du monde. Lee Smolin, physicist, Pennsylvania State University: The Life of the Cosmos

ORIGINAL TEXT and PHOTOGRAPHS © P. Geldart except where noted.  FRENCH TRANSLATION: H. Lacasse / M. Aubrey / Natural Resources Canada /  H. Reeves.  ILFOCHROME PRINTING: Silver Shack, Toronto.  FRAMING: Artistotle Tzakis, Manotick, Ont.  MUSIC:  S.L. Weiss: Sonatas for Lute.

Bibliography
(44 k PDF)

Gatineau Park, Quebec, Canada - Fortune Lake, pine trees, Fall - arts and science museum exhibit

Gatineau Park, Quebec, Canada - rock pattern - arts and science museum exhibit

NRCan, Ntl. Atlas 5th ed., AVHRR-NOAA-11 August 1990 - arts and science museum exhibit
 


PORTA
Many of the photographs were taken in the Gatineau Park north of Ottawa by curator Peter Geldart in what is part of the Grenville geological province of the Precambrian Shield (in the spirit of his ancestor George Dawson), showing characteristics common to Quebec, Ontario, and Northern Canada, as well as Scotland and Scandinavia.

Thoughts and confessions

Photographs

Some are of rock cuts beside a parkway while others are of lichen and rocks little changed since glaciers scoured the land 10,000 years ago.

Also on display are images from the National Air Photo Library and the Canada Centre for Remote Sensing, both part of the Department of Natural Resources Canada. 

For complete details, a step-by-step installation guide, rental and purchase information, or to receive an exhibit prospectus please contact

Astra Exhibits
44 Murray St.
Ottawa Ontario K1N 5M4 Canada
(613) 294-2205 | geldartp@gmail.com


Gatineau Park, Quebec, Canada - Eardley escarpment - Fall - arts and science museum exhibit

Gatineau Park, Quebec, Canada -Escarpment, winter - arts and science museum exhibit

Grenville Orogen world map (Karlstrom, K.E. et al., 1999) - arts and science museum exhibit

P. Geldart.  Gatineau Park,  Quebec, Canada

Gatineau Park, Quebec, Canada - granite rock, moss - arts and science museum exhibit


PETRA
Much of Canada lies on Precambrian Shield, a relic of the garment that formed as the Earth cooled over four billion years ago. 

Histories of vanished mountains are written in the rocks.  Some of the oldest known rocks in the world are found along the Acasta River, in the Northwest Territories. 

Rocks of the Precambrian were folded and uplifted several times, but the final episode 600 million years ago was one of relaxation. 

Now, after millions of years of erosion, only the roots of these mountains remain, and the hills seem to follow undulating curves, as if time itself had stopped to carve its name. An inland sea of rock in an ocean of air where only the wind swells against the hills.

Here are forms and colours that would have been a part of windswept rocky landscapes, long before plants or animals had evolved.  This inanimate world will remain long after the passing of life on this planet. 

The word 'rock' seems solid and lifeless compared to words such as 'air' or 'water'. 

immobile / untouched / ancient / hard 
fossil / slab / obstacle / wall 
marble / column / pedestal / sculpture 
jewel / mineral / metal / ore 
cliff / continent / mountain / moon 


Gatineau Park, Quebec, Canada - rock, lichen - arts and science museum exhibit

Gatineau Park, Quebec, Canada - rock face, trees, shadows - arts and science museum exhibit

Gatineau Park, Quebec, Canada - granite rocck, licjen - arts and science museum exhibit

Gatineau Park, Quebec, Canada - rock, frost - arts and science museum exhibit

Gatineau Park, Quebec, Canada - rock, lichen - arts and science museum exhibit

P. Geldart. Gtineau Park, Quebec, Canada - minersals - arts and science museum exhibit

Gatineau Park, Quebec, Canada  - rock - arts and science museum exhibit

Spherical collections of thousands of stars each surround our Milky Way galaxy. Globular Clusters drawing after Harlow Shapley, 1931 - arts and science museum exhibit


ASTRA
Chemically speaking, rocks are our ancestors. 

Over a huge expanse of time the earliest elements from the Big bang (hydrogen and helium) drew together to form galaxies and stars.

In these stars hydrogen burns into helium and gives off light and heat.

How are other elements made?

Under increasing temperature from the pressure of gravity at the centre of a star, nuclear fusion produces elements such as carbon, oxygen and silicon. 

Some of these elements are blown off the surface of stars by stellar winds or ripped away by gravitational forces. Stars like our sun also shed their atmospheres at the end of their life.

When larger stars run out of their hydrogen and helium fuel, the balance between outward-pushing pressure and gravity is lost:  the star collapses to an iron core and throws off a shell of material in a supernova explosion.  High-energy particles launch outwards and smash through the expanding shell, creating copper, silver, gold, mercury, lead and other exotic elements. 

Then elements mingle as they form dust clouds adrift in space, and cosmic rays break up some elements to form new ones not found in stars.  Others may recombine in different ways to form crystals, hydrocarbons and organic molecules. 

"A carbon atom, forged from  helium in an early supernova, might have wandered for hundreds of millions of years between the stars.  It might then have found itself in an interstellar cloud, which collapsed under its own gravity to form stars.  The atom might have entered the core of some new bright star, and been processed farther up the periodic table (into silicon or iron), and then been flung back in another supernova.

Or it might have joined a less massive star, surrounded by a spinning gaseous disk that condensed into a retinue of planets.  One such star could have been our Sun.  This carbon atom might have found itself in the newly forming Earth, to play its part in the geological processes that molded and weathered the Earth's surface; and in the chemistry whereby species emerged and evolved
. . ."

© Martin Rees, Before the Beginning, p18. 
Addison-Wesley.


REGENTS OF THE UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN Space Physics Reseach Laboratory. Solar system formation - arts and science museum exhibit

REGENTS OF THE UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN Space Physics Reseach Laboratory. Cutaway of Ganymede moon . NASA - arts and science museum exhibit

REGENTS OF THE UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN Space Physics Reseach Laboratory, Solar system Perspective - arts and science museum exhibit

Pleiades open star cluster M45 (c) Matt BenDaniel  - arts and science museum exhibit


SOLA
About 5 billion years ago dust clouds in one of the spiral arms of our Milky Way galaxy slowly drew together, encouraged by pressure from a recent supernova..

Heavier elements tended to collect, like sediments, in the inner orbits of the future 'rocky planets': Mercury, Venus Earth and Mars.  Ices, gases and organic molecules collected further out where Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune would later form.

At some moment under the stars when our solar system was just beginning, hydrogen fusion started in the red-glowing sun and released the first rays of sunlight.  A stellar wind blew away the cocoon of dust in which planets had formed. 

Stars like our sun and dust like the dust from which we are made, the Pleiades cluster floats against the background of the Milky Way.  For thousands of years hunters, farmers, villagers and priests have recognized this constellation.

"Just as our life is embedded in the ecological cycles of the biosphere, our whole planet exists as part of a much older cycle of material and energy that forms the galaxy."

© Lee Smolin, The Life of the Cosmos, p 34 
Oxford University Press.
 

The rocks, trees, your eyes and thoughts
all share the same origin. 

Gatineau Park, Quebec, Canada - icicles, rock - arts and science museum exhibit

Gatineau Park, Quebec, Canada - rock burst - arts and science museum exhibit

Gatineau Park, Quebec, Canada - granite, water drips - arts and science museum exhibit

Gatineau Park, Quebec, Canada - rock face - arts and science museum exhibit

Gatineau Park, Quebec, Canada - rock patterns - arts and science museum exhibit
 

 


COSMA
What if there had not been enough time to form galaxies and stars? 

What if stars did not make any new elements and there was only hydrogen and helium? 

Or what if all elements were fixed like a crystal lattice - or kept recombining and breaking apart? 

Then living things probably could not have evolved.  So we can only find ourselves in a world something like this one. 

The properties of our Universe seem to be very finely tuned to allow stars and planets (and the chemistry and time scales) needed for living things to evolve.  This may have come about because: 

 (A) in the very beginning some principle made it inevitable that particle masses, forces, expansion speed etc., had the necessary values;

perhaps the values of these properties were only possibilities, while the most probable values, in the circumstances, are what emerged.

OR

(B) there are very many universes, each with different properties, and in at least some of these life forms, such as ourselves, are able to evolve.

~

All the stars and galaxies we see may be only a small part of a universe which includes 'dark matter'. 

" Great galaxies could be just a puddle of sediment in a cloud of invisible matter ten times more massive and extensive."

© Martin Rees, New Perspectives in Astrophysical Cosmology , p39 
Cambridge University Press 

Yet all this is still about 75% hydrogen and 23% helium.  All other elements are present in extremely small amounts . .

like foam on an ocean wave,
dust floating in a cathedral

~



Gatineau Park, Quebec, Canada - graniet rock  - arts and science museum exhibit

Gatineau Park, Quebec, Canada - arts and science museum exhibit

Gatineau Park, Quebec, Canada - fossil-like rock pattern - arts and science museum exhibit

Gatineau Park, Quebec, Canada minerals - arts and science museum exhibit

 


TERRA
During the first billion years of our solar system as the planets cooled, comets from beyond Jupiter ploughed water, metals and organic molecules onto their surfaces.  And so a variety of elements collected on the Earth. Volcanic gasses contributed to its atmosphere, held by gravity. 

Earth would provide a stable environment long enough for this mix of elements to evolve into living things. 

About 3.8 billion years ago bacteria first emerged and through photosynthesis gradually converted the carbon dioxide in the atmosphere to oxygen. 

This opened the way for larger-than-microscopic organisms such as jellyfish, but not until 800 million years ago.  About 400 million years later living things spread from the oceans onto the land. 

But for three billion years
there were only single-celled bacteria
in the sea.

"Modern science has given us a new vision of the cosmos. It has not always existed and it is in a continuous state of evolution. Born in a state of extreme temperature and density it has been expanding and cooling since its birth, some fifteen billion years ago. In parallel, the matter from which it is composed has been reaching higher and higher levels of complexity.  Living matter is, to our knowledge, its presently highest state."

© Hubert Reeves, astrophysicist, Université de Montréal & CNRS, Paris 


NASA AND THE HUBBLE WIDE FIELD PLANETARY CAMERA 2 TEAM Spiral galaxy M100 56 million light years - arts and science museum exhibit

Gatineau Park, Quebec, Canada - rock face - arts and science museum exhibit

ROBERT WILLIAMS (STSCI) AND THE HUBBLE DEEP FIELD TEAM (WFPC2 / PRC96-01a) HDF - arts and science museum exhibit
 

 


FINA
Continents would provide a vessel for rivers and forests.

Water, pebbles and sand would etch away the surface, forever following the pull of gravity. . 

as matter always had
ever since the solar system was
a swirling cloud of dust.


time / gravity / dust / cathedral 
sediments / erosion / mathematics 
inanimate / inevitable 
 

ISBN 0-9685784-0-3


 
We're interested in what you think! Comments...