When I made the decision to publish my collection of short-stories as an ebook, I realized pretty quickly that I needed a good-looking cover. After a brief attempt at putting something together myself (NO!), I headed off into cyber-space looking for a professional to do the job for me. I ended up going to Caligraphics: a company that specializes in designing ebook covers. They did a great job, were priced right, and the turn-around was quick so I highly recommend them.

Before I got that far, though, I had already picked out an image I liked for the cover. After some brooding, I had settled on the title Odin’s Eye for the book (check out this video for the inspiration behind that), and shortly afterwards I came across a stunning image of the Helix Nebula at NASA’s website.

1024px-Iridescent_Glory_of_Nearby_Helix_Nebula

It was so perfect that I could hardly believe it. For quite obvious reasons, this particular nebula has been called “Eye of god”, or various variations on that name, and the image is so striking that I didn’t have to think twice about my choice.

The Helix Nebula, AKA NGC 7293, is located in the constellation Aquarius, and I’ll quote NASA when it comes to the specifics:

The Helix Nebula is the closest example of a planetary nebula created at the end of the life of a Sun-like star. The outer gasses of the star expelled into space appear from our vantage point as if we are looking down a helix. The remnant central stellar core, destined to become a white dwarf star, glows in light so energetic it causes the previously expelled gas to fluoresce. The Helix Nebula, given a technical designation of NGC 7293, lies about 650 light-years away towards the constellation of Aquarius and spans about 2.5 light-years.

Of course, the way the Helix Nebula looks on the cover of my book is only one possible way to “see” it. The image I chose is actually a composite of images from the Hubble Space Telescope, and wide-angle images from the telescope at Kitt Peak National Observatory. There are many other ways you could “see” this nebula as well, but no matter how it’s depicted, NGC 7293 remains a beautiful and singularly striking phenomenon.

In infrared:

helix_spitzer_2048

In ultraviolet light:

nebula

Or a combination of the infrared and ultraviolet:

693952main_pia15817-full_full

Finally, I’ll quote a very old book: Snorre’s Edda, because it echoes exactly what came into my mind when I saw that image of the Helix Nebula online for the first time:

Well know I, Odin,

Where you hid your eye:

In the crystal-clear

Well of Mimer.

All images via NASA.

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