(Click to enlarge)
At this Christmas season, our thoughts turn to the birth of the Babe of Bethlehem, our Savior Jesus Christ. One wonders what the Shepherds must have felt as they looked into the sky and saw the new star...and then received further witness of his arrival from an Angel and Heavenly Choirs. The witness of his arrival some 2000 years ago came from above. Today, the Heavens continue to witness to us that He lives and loves us; that he has magnificent power, and is concerned for our welfare. Speaking of the Heavenly signs that are made available to us as a continuing witness, the prophet Moses declared, “Behold, . . . all things are created and made to bear record of [God], . . . things which are in the heavens above, and things which are on the earth . . . : all things bear record of [God]” (Moses 6:63; emphasis added). Enoch (in an apocryphal record) said that ... "I blessed the Lord of glory, who had made those great and splendid signs, that they might display the magnificence of his works to angels and to the souls of men; and that these might glorify all his works and operations; might see the effect of his power; might glorify the great labor of his hands; and bless him forever." Enoch 35:3 (Apocryphal)
The above image serves as a reminder of the magnificence of His works and the great labor extended on our behalf. My inclination is like that of Enoch's...to strive to "bless Him forever"
Located in the constellation Cepheus, IC 1396 is one of the largest emission nebulae in our galaxy, spanning 3 degrees across the sky, which is equivalent to 6 full moons. It lies almost 3000 light years away from earth. This image is taken with an Ha or Hydrogen Alpha filter. Energetic ultraviolet light radiating from the central star in this image, strips electrons away from the hydrogen gas that is the main component of this nebula. Then, as the electrons recombine with the hydrogen gas, photons are emitted. The strongest visible emission band is in the red part of the spectrum and is the Hydrogen Alpha Band, which is what we are seeing in this image.
The Elephant Trunk Nebula is a famous object seen in the upper left quadrant. The bright rim on this extended cloud is indicative of the active stellar formation that is occurring within the cloud. Strong radiation from nascent stars makes this area glow. Eventually the dark clouds will be blown away by this radiation, leaving the stars to our view. This process is seen clearly in the more widely viewed “Pillars of Creation” shot taken of the Eagle Nebula by the Hubble telescope. Also visible are multiple black, dense, clouds of dust called Bok Globules. These are also areas of new star formation. (Image was chosen as APOD (Astronomy Picture of the Day) on NASA's website on Christmas Eve, December 24, 2007)
Image Acquisition information:
Date: November, 2007
Location: Starlodge Observatory, Ione CA
Telescope: FSQ 106
Camera: STL 11000
L(Ha)RGB : 80:30:30:30