Alan Taylor’s blog, The Big Picture, covers news stories in photographs. He has just posted a feature called,
Each day between now and Dec. 25, Taylor will be releasing a photograph taken by the Hubble telescope. These photo’s (some old, some new) are spectacular.
This is an advent calendar that truly excites me. Who needs a cheap, waxy tasting chocolate square hidden beneath a cardboard door bearing a picture of Mary riding on a donkey when we have true wonders to enjoy like these photos.
Here are pics from the first three days of his calendar. I hope you will visit it daily and take time to ponder the wonder and glory of the universe and the immense privilege we have in being the results of a process of evolution that has led to our emotional and cognitive capacities for wonder, awe, humility, and joy.
The spectacular structure of Planetary nebula NGC 2818 contains the outer layers of a star that were expelled into interstellar space. The glowing gaseous shrouds in the nebula were shed by the central star after it ran out of fuel to sustain the nuclear reactions in its core. This Hubble image was taken in November 2008 with the Wide Field Planetary Camera 2. The colors in the image represent a range of emissions coming from the clouds of the nebula: red represents nitrogen, green represents hydrogen, and blue represents oxygen. (NASA, ESA, and the Hubble Heritage Team, STScI/AURA)
This composite color infrared image of the center of our Milky Way galaxy reveals a new population of massive stars and new details in complex structures in the hot ionized gas swirling around the central 300 light-years. This view combines the sharp imaging of the Hubble Space Telescope's Near Infrared Camera and Multi-Object Spectrometer (NICMOS) with color imagery from a previous Spitzer Space Telescope survey to make the sharpest infrared picture ever made of the Galactic core. The core is obscured in visible light by intervening dust clouds, but infrared light penetrates the dust. At this distance - 26,000 light-years away - Hubble reveals details in objects as small as 20 times the size of our own solar system. (NASA, ESA, Q.D. Wang (UMass, Amherst), JPL, and S. Stolovy (Spitzer Science Center/Caltech))
On February 24, 2009, the Hubble Space Telescope took a photo of four moons of Saturn passing in front of their parent planet. In this view, the giant orange moon Titan casts a large shadow onto Saturn's north polar hood. Below Titan, near the ring plane and to the left is the moon Mimas, casting a much smaller shadow onto Saturn's equatorial cloud tops. Farther to the left, and off Saturn's disk, are the bright moon Dione and the fainter moon Enceladus. These pictures were taken with Hubble's Wide Field Planetary Camera 2 when Saturn was at a distance of roughly 1.25 billion km (775 million mi) from Earth. (NASA, ESA, and the Hubble Heritage Team, STScI/AURA)
It’s always the season for wonder!