Crystal Bridges

The city of Bentonville, Arkansas is home of the Walmart corporation. The community is supported in many ways by the corporation. One of the most popular is the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, opened in 2011, and founded by Alice Walton, the daughter of Walmart founder Sam Walton. We visited recently on our way to another destination.

Crystal Bridges can accommodate up to 300 people at a gathering. Outdoor areas are available for concerts and public events. There are many nature trails on the wooded grounds. About 300 people are employed. It is within walking distance of downtown Bentonville. Admission to the museum and grounds is free except for any special exhibits such as Craft America which we attended.

Nature Trail Art

We arrived mid-morning before the heat of the day so we could walk the trails and see the outdoor works. Not many people were present. The natural areas are well-kept with many labels on the plants native to the area. Here are a few examples of the artworks we encountered.

Indoor Exhibits

Crystal Bridges has agreements with other museums to share collections. Their collection includes works from thee Colonial Era to Contemporary Art. Here is a link to some of their selected works. The works are housed in galleries in several buildings connected around a small lake. Docents are available for questions and direction. We also visited the Craft America special exhibit in a separate building. The following image gallery is from that special exhibit.

We enjoyed our visit to the museum and the community of Bentonville. The town still has some small town charm with a public square in the center. Restaurants are abundant and good. We suggest a visit if you are passing through.

New Moon Joined Venus

In the evening of 12 May 2021 at 8:41pm, the waxing Moon was near Venus low in the western sky. Clear conditions allowed a fine binocular view. Without them, I would not have seen the Moon’s very thin crescent.

Approximate view of unaided eyes next to a streetlamp pole.
Full camera zoom. Enhanced with software. Moon 1.28 days old and 1.31% illuminated.

If the sky is clear the evening of 13 May, look again for the Moon in the west. It will be to the left of Mercury this time. Not quite as close as it was to Venus. Binoculars will help. The Moon will be illuminated 4.34% and easier to find.

Astro Images | Two Galaxy Views

There are billions of billions of galaxies in the known universe. They are oriented in countless different ways. A small fraction show their full face toward Earth, while some show an edge-on view. This first example is a nearly face-on view of NGC 4414. Imaged by the Hubble Telescope in 1995, it lies about 60 million lt-yr from Earth. Only about half of the galaxy fit into the detector of Hubble due to its large size.

Three red, green, and blue filtered greyscale images were used to make my color version of this galaxy. The center region is densely populated with older yellow and red stars. This is typical of spiral galaxies. The outer regions are less populated and include younger blue stars. The galaxy has a lot of dust mixed into the spiral arms as evidenced by the dark clouds and bands in silhouette against the bright star glow.

This next galaxy is a nearly perfect edge-on view of NGC 4013. The very bright light source at the heart of this galaxy is actually a star in the foreground much closer than the galaxy. It is part of our Milky Way galaxy and just happens to be in alignment. NGC 4013 is about 55 million lt-yr away in the direction of Ursa Major, the Big Dipper. If we could see it face-on, it would have a spiral shape similar to NGC 4414 above. What stands out clearly in this edge-on view is the dark band of dust cutting across the width of the galaxy. A few blue stars show in the upper right. They are in an outer band and less obscured by the dust.

Astro-Images | Stellar Nursery NGC3603

The Carina constellation lies about 20,000 light years away. It is too far south in the sky for me to see. Within Carina is a cluster of bright stars surrounded by clouds of gas and dust. These stars formed about the same time. Their intense light has blown away the nearby gas and dust revealing the group of bright stars in this ESA image from Chile.

European Space Agency | VLT Unit Telescopes | Cerro Paranal, Chile

The stars differ in size, mass, temperature, and color. The mass of a star determines the pace of its evolution over time. This cluster contain stars in various stages of their lives. Astronomers are able to do detailed analyses of their life cycles with this snapshot in time.

This cluster NGC 3603 has some of the most massive stars known. They burn through their hydrogen fuel quickly demonstrating the phrase to ‘live fast and die young’.

Zoom into Carina to find the location of NGC 3603. Credit: NASA, ESA, and G. Bacon (STScI).

Below is my version of the colorized NGC 3603 using greyscale images from Hubble. The resulting colors depend on several factors such as color filters used to make the original greyscale images and the choices made in hue and saturation in software such as Photoshop. An important point to make is that various colors help us see different features, structures, and processes. They are not typically what the eye would see.

Hubble Legacy Archive | NGC 3603 | My Version