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As many of you read this post by the one and only Sandra, I will either be: in the process of waiting to be wheeled into surgery; being wheeled into surgery; under the knife; in recovery room; back in the post-op room; on the way home; or home already!  I prefer the last option, but since I know I’ll be fine, I’ll take it all as it comes. . .

One of my newer blog-friends is a great fantasy fiction writer – Sandra Bell Kirchman.  Please drop by her site frequently and be treated to some great writing, and a wonderful person all around.  She so graciously agreed to step in for me today and post for me – and such a wonderful post it is!  I know you will be as fascinated as I was when I read it.  So, delaying no longer, I give you:

The Celestial Wonders of Creation

  • STONEHENGE AND PLANETS: One of my passions is the stunning displays of beauty and energy in Creation.  Let’s take a little trip, stopping first at Stonehenge, a 4,000-year-old manmade monument to the Sun, reputedly dedicated by the Ancients to the measuring of the Sun and the seasons of the year.

Credit & Copyright:

Philip Perkins

Bright Jupiter stands highest above the horizon at the upper left. A remarkable, almost

equilateral triangle formed by Saturn (left), Mars (top), and Venus (right) is placed just above the stones near picture center. Fighting the glow of the setting sun, Mercury can be spotted closest to the horizon, below and right of the planetary triad.

  • THE MOONS OF EARTH:  Moving upwards and out from Stonehenge, we get a surface view of our beautiful planet.  Seen above Earth moving in their trajectories around the planet, we first note the Russian Mir Space Station.  To the far right of Mir, we see Earth’s own natural moon.

Credit:

STS-91 Crew, NASA

While orbiting the planet during their June 1998 mission, the crew of the

Space Shuttle Discovery photographed this view.  The Mir orbited planet Earth once every 90 minutes about 200 miles above the planet’s surface or about 4,000 miles from Earth’s center. The Moon orbits once every 28 days at a distance of about 250,000 miles from the center of the Earth.

  • CONE NEBULA – CLOSE-UP:  This galactic formation never ceases to amaze me with its beauty and almost recognizable similarity to the head of Jesus.  Whenever I see it, I have a deep feeling of joy and like everything is okay in the universe.

Credit:

ACS Science & Engineering Team, NASA

This view of the

Cone Nebula, within the bright galactic star-forming region NGC 2264, was captured in a close-up from the Hubble Space Telescope’s newest camera. While the Cone Nebula, about 2,500 light-years away in Monoceros (the Unicorn Constellation), is around 7 light-years long, the region pictured here surrounding the cone’s blunted head is a mere 2.5 light-years across. In our neck of the galaxy that distance is just over half way from the Sun to its nearest stellar neighbor, Alpha Centauri. The massive star NGC 2264 IRS, seen by Hubble’s infrared camera in 1997, is the likely source of the wind sculpting the Cone Nebula and lies off the top of the image. The Cone Nebula’s reddish veil is produced by glowing hydrogen gas.

  • ANDROMEDA ISLAND UNIVERSE (M31):  Last but not least is the brilliant Andromeda Island Universe.  Believe it or not, despite the fact that it is 2.5 million light-years away, it is still visible to the naked eye.  This is in part to its proximity to Earth and in part to the immense size of this spiral galaxy–spanning
  1. over 200,000 light years.  It will appear as a faint, nebulous cloud in the constellation Andromeda.

Credit &

Copyright: Martin Pugh

It’s interesting to note that astronomers of the 20th century

seriously debated the fundamental concept that there are many distant galaxies like M31. Were these “spiral nebulae” simply outlying components of our own Milky Way Galaxy or were they instead “island universes” — distant systems of stars comparable to the Milky Way itself? This question was central to the famous Shapley-Curtisdebate of 1920, which was later resolved by observations of M31 in favor of Andromeda, island universe.


I hope you all have enjoyed this mini-tour of galaxies, planets, and nebulae.  It was fun showing you some of my favorite celestial formations.  Do you have any of these that are your favorites?  We’d love to see them.

And Paula, hope you came through with flying colors, like the trooper that you are.  I expect to hear that you are scampering around with energy and glee next week.

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I wish you all enough. . .

(* – Being the first to answer my plea for help, Sandra has been newly dubbed one of my “Forever-Blog-Friends!”  There are a few perks that come with this designation – number one is that I must accept all requests from the designee for the rest of our blogging life! Whooppee!)

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