“Looking up in the sky is one of the greatest things a human being can do. Going out to a silent and dark site, enjoying the beauty of the Universe with friends. You will forget all the problems here on Earth, because you realize that we are only a little funny thing on this ball we call Earth, flying through our galaxy we call Milky Way. There is more out there that wants to be discovered. Sit back and take a journey through our real home and through space and time.” And remember Daniel Marquardt…
It is with deepest sadness that I report the passing of Daniel Marquardt on November 23, 2009. I got the news as soon as I arrived on-line and I felt the tug on my heart-strings hard and heavy. I have reviewed a lot of Daniel’s work and not a week before had made plans to work with him on an in-depth article for AstroPhoto Insight Magazine. I looked at his images and had plans of doing illustrated soft-science articles here on Universe Today.
And I thought there was time…
It’s funny how our time passes so quickly – and how quickly we can regret not seizing a moment. Daniel lived in Zurich, Switzerland and did his imaging remotely through his Takahashi FSQ106N refractor located in his robotic observatory in Southern France. Too distant for Ohio gal? Not hardly. The internet has made us all much closer and Daniel was a co-member of a group of astrophotographers I love. His star was burning brightly… But I didn’t see it clearly until too late.
Said Daniel, “My goal is to share the beauty of our Universe with everyone. Why am I doing astrophotography? In normal photography you are imaging objects you see through your viewfinder. That’s quite simple. Looking at the object and pressing the release. In less than a second you will find your final image on the memory card and you’ll look at it once. It’s a big difference in astrophotography: The most fascinating point here is that you are not seeing the object with your eyes! It gets only visible if you have a large optical mirror or lens (or both) in front of your camera, that collects many photons. The second difference is that you are not exposing less than a second – you are probably opening the shutter for many hours! Why? Your eye is “updating” the image you see very often. But you can control the opening of your shutter in the camera: The longer the shutter is open, the more photons of an object can crash into the sensitive electronic eye. That’s the magic behind astrophotography.”
And Daniel’s work was truly magic. His images caught the eyes and hearts of astrophotography fans everywhere, like this superb rendition of the “Heart and Soul” nebula which appeared as a NASA Astronomy Picture of the Day on February 14, 2009.
Daniel’s heart and soul was in his astrophotography and in sharing the Universe with us, he captured far more than just collected photons – he captured distant visions for us to feast our eager eyes upon.
If there is a memory card in our minds, don’t just look through the viewfinder of life and look once. That second is all too brief – like the shining star that was Daniel Marquardt. Take his life’s lessons, dedication and courage in the face of illness and turn it into brilliant moment… And remember a very talented young man. Godspeed, Daniel… Godspeed…
“I am like a slip of comet,
Scarce worth discovery, in some corner seen
Bridging the slender difference of two stars,
Come out of space, or suddenly engender’d
By heady elements, for no man knows;
But when she sights the sun she grows and sizes
And spins her skirts out, while her central star
Shakes its cocooning mists; and so she comes
To fields of light; millions of travelling rays
Pierce her; she hangs upon the flame-cased sun,
And sucks the light as full as Gideons’s fleece:
But then her tether calls her; she falls off,
And as she dwindles shreds her smock of gold
Between the sistering planets, till she comes
To single Saturn, last and solitary;
And then she goes out into the cavernous dark.
So I go out: my little sweet is done:
I have drawn heat from this contagious sun:
To not ungentle death now forth I run.”
— Gerard Manley Hopkins
All images here are the work of Daniel Marquardt. Please take the time to visit Sky Image CCD Astronomy.