A Stellar Advent Reminder

The Eagle Nebula's Pillars of Creation.

The Eagle Nebula’s Pillars of Creation.

By now you’ve probably been frazzled more than once by the busy press of the holiday schedule. And so you may be at one of those points where you would appreciate something to remind you why we celebrate this season in the first place.

If so, let me make a suggestion: take a look at this rather unusual advent calendar, coming courtesy of Alan Taylor, a photo editor at The Atlantic. It may lack the traditional Christmas imagery, but it might do a whole lot of good for your sense of awe and wonder.

That’s because it’s a product of NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope. I’ve mentioned some of the awe inspiring photos from Hubble before here at ESI, but the images that Taylor has collected are again more than worth your time. For example, try this shot of Planetary Nebula NGC 6302 in our own Milky Way galaxy. The butterfly-like wings are actually superheated gas clouds originating from a dying star and spanning approximately two light years.

planetary nebula

Or how about this image of two colliding galaxies about 650 million light years from earth.

ESO 593-8

Finally, here’s a picture of the Cat’s Eye Nebula. Each ring is thought to be a spherical pulse of gas ejected in 1500 year intervals from the star in the middle of the image.

cats eye

I’d highly recommend checking out the rest of the images. And when you do, remember this: the God of incalculable power and wisdom who created each of these breathtaking stellar phenomena is the same God who humbled himself to become a tiny baby boy on a night nearly 2000 years ago. And as it turns out, the glory that resulted from the latter act is more than a match for all the brilliance of the heavens .

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