Hospital physician pens third stellar book
[December 21 2011] -
A long-time photographer of the night sky, Robert Gendler, M.D., was running out of space at his house to hang his stellar photos and began displaying them at The Hospital of Central Connecticut's New Britain General campus. Thirty-three photos now frame hospital hallways and the Radiology reception area, presenting patients, staff and visitors with a colorful twinkle of the cosmic sky captured light years away.
His newest additions to this "gallery" reflect the southern hemisphere's sky, also the focus of his third and latest book Treasures of the Southern Sky.
"I always had a fascination with astronomy as a kid. I grew up in New York so there was very little I could do with a telescope," says Gendler, who would visit the Hayden Planetarium in Manhattan on class trips from Brooklyn. That all changed when Gendler, an interventional radiologist, moved to Connecticut in the early 1990s. Building on an interest in photography -- his father is a professional photographer -- Gendler added a camera to the back of a telescope, launching what he terms is almost a "second career," namely astrophotography.
Since the gallery began nearly 10 years ago, viewers at the hospital have been treated to many starry photos, including the Orion Nebula and the Andromeda Galaxy. Twenty-four photos are displayed in hallways leading from Radiology into the Tomasso Tower and nine are in the Radiology reception area.
Robert Gendler, M.D., stands before the photo NGC 602, Stellar Nursery in the Small Magellanic Cloud. The photo was taken by the Hubble Space Telescope and later assembled into an image by Gendler.
Some newer photos added over the past couple of years were taken in Australia and are among about 150 photos recorded using long exposure deep sky astrophotography that appear in the new book, for which Gendler is primary author. Book co-authors are Lars Lindberg Christensen and David Malin.
"It's an anthology of astrophotography in the southern hemisphere but it also tells a bit of the human story of southern sky exploration," says Gendler, who notes northern skies have been explored for thousands of years but southern skies only much more recently.
For some photos in the new book, Gendler relied on photos sent via the internet from a camera attached to a telescope from a remote observatory in Australia. Each photo, the culmination of dozens of hours of photographic exposure, was further amplified by Gendler through computer software.
The book, like hospital display, also includes photos taken by the Hubble Space Telescope and later assembled into an image by Gendler, a member of the American Astronomical Society. One Hubble photo, also in the hospital's Tomasso Tower hallway, captures a stellar nursery, a snapshot in the evolution of stars, a process Gendler says can take millions of years. The object is shown as it appeared 160,000 years (160 light years) ago.
Gendler describes his first book, A Year in the Life of the Universe (2006), as a seasonal guide to viewing the night sky, and Capturing the Stars (2009), a compilation of work from astrophotographers worldwide.
Gendler says he does astrophotography, which he calls a "self-taught avocation" because it's fun. The enjoyment is shared by many as Gendler has received nice comments from staff and patients about the photos and recalls getting a note from a patient who said the gallery helped the patient think about something else for a few minutes.
"It brings a lot of pleasure to be able to make an image of something we can't really see with our eyes," Gendler says. "There's a lot going on in the sky that we can't behold with our own eyes but we can see through the marvels of astrophotography."
More of Gendler's work can be seen on his web site www.robgendlerastropics.com. His latest book Treasures of the Southern Sky, published by Springer, is available through Amazon and at a discounted price in the hospital's New Britain General campus Auxiliary gift shop.
Robert Gendler, M.D., stands before the photo NGC 602, Stellar Nursery in the Small Magellanic Cloud. The photo was taken by the Hubble Space Telescop