Our New Telescope!

Finally assembled and ready to go, here’s the telescope that Santa brought us for Christmas. I’m hoping to be able to head out into a less light-polluted area sometime this week for a good look at our night sky. I can’t wait for my daughter to get her first good look at the moon! Of course, I’ll write all about it once we go on our first astronomy adventure.

Merry Christmas

A very merry, warm, and wonderful Christmas to everyone out there in the blogosphere.

‘Tis the season… for a little more astronomy!

Out of the many presents that I got for my daughter this year, the one I think we’re both most excited about is a telescope. She’s been asking for one for months now, and “Santa” finally decided to get her (and her mom) a pretty nice reflector telescope for Christmas. In anticipation of this gift we’ve been looking at astronomy pictures almost daily, and today we came across this one, again courtesy of Phil Plait (click the link as he offers, as usual, a great explanation of what it is we’re seeing here). As soon as she saw it she yelled out “It’s Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer!” And indeed, it really does look like him!

Click to see it at full resolution.

Hope everyone has a wonderful Christmas Eve.

Blake’s Adoration of the Magi…and stars.

In keeping with last night’s post of that amazing photograph of the angelic nebula, I’m following up this morning with another seasonally appropriate image, this time from William Blake. This is his “Adoration of the Magi,” and although I’m far from religious, this work still evokes a sense of magic. My favorite part of the painting? The luminous star, of course, illuminating the sky around it. It’s long trail of light connecting it to the only other light-source in the work, the infant Christ. Reminds me of what Sagan said,

The cosmos is also within us. We’re made of star stuff. We are a way for the cosmos to know itself.

Thank you to Biblioklept for reminding me how much I love this painting. 

Astronomical Angel

I’ve been avidly following Sky-Watching this holiday season as they count down to Christmas with some of the most beautiful astronomy photos I’ve seen. I came across this picture a few days back on Phil Plait’s Bad Astronomy blog, as well, and looking at it for the second time I realized that it’s just too beautiful (and seasonal) not to share.

You should definitely click to enlarge this image to see it in its full beauty.

According to Plait,

This devastatingly beautiful image shows the birth pangs of a massive star. Called IRS 4 (for Infrared Source 4; it was first seen in IR images), it’s the really bright star just below center where the two blue lobes come together. It’s a bruiser, an O-type star with at least 15 times the Sun’s mass — 30 octillion tons! — and is a staggering 10,000 times as bright. It’s still in the process of forming, but it’s nearly there.

He has much more detailed information on his site, and I highly recommend giving it a read.
Happy Holidays!