Sunday, December 25, 2011

Crazy Eddie the Motie wishes you a Merry Christmas, part 3

For the final greetings for the day, here are the Christmas-themed space and science stories that I featured in last night's Overnight News Digest: Science Saturday (Comet Lovejoy edition) on Daily Kos.

Comet turns into a Christmas star
By Alan Boyle
If anyone questioned whether Comet Lovejoy would become the star of the season — and a lot of people did — the pictures of the past few days have removed any doubt. In the Southern Hemisphere, the death-defying comet is truly this year's "Star of Wonder."

Not only do we have an amazing video of the long-tailed iceball rising from the horizon, as seen from the International Space Station, we also have the stunning pictures and video released today by the European Southern Observatory. Skywatchers at the ESO's Paranal Observatory in Chile captured the comet against the glittering backdrop of the Milky Way.
NASA has a YouTube video as well.

International Space Station Commander Dan Burbank captured spectacular imagery of Comet Lovejoy as seen from about 240 miles above the Earth's horizon on Wednesday, Dec. 21.
More over the jump. Space Christmas: Festive Photos of Cosmic Beauty Happy Holidays 'Red Planet' Tour--Santa's View
The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has taken amazing imagery of the frozen surfaces of Mars. Take in the breathtaking sights on this holiday tour aboard Santa's "Red Planet" sleigh.
Last of the Space Advent Calendar from MSNBC.

Satellites document North Korea's dark ages

Holiday calendar: Season's tiltings

Holiday calendar: Circle of power

Holiday calendar: North Pole revealed

Holiday calendar: Sleigh ride in orbit

Holiday calendar: Peace over Earth via MSNBC: Astronauts arrive at space station for the holidays
International space station 'back at full strength' with six crew members
By Clara Moskowitz
updated 12/23/2011 10:53:32 AM ET
Three astronauts arrived Thursday at the International Space Station just in time for a zero gravity holiday party to begin a five-month stay in orbit.

NASA astronaut Don Pettit, Russian cosmonaut Oleg Kononenko and Dutch astronaut Andre Kuipers of the European Space Agency docked at the orbiting laboratory at 10:19 a.m. ET as the two spacecraft sailed 240 miles over southern Russia. They arrived aboard a Russian Soyuz spacecraft, which launched Wednesday from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

"The Soyuz crew arrives down the chimney of the space station with an early Christmas present for the station's crew," NASA spokesman Rob Navias said during the televised space rendezvous. via MSNBC: How astronauts celebrate Christmas in space
Decorations, cards, gifts, big meals and a party also celebrate new arrivals
By Mike Wall
updated 12/24/2011 10:56:12 AM ET
The six astronauts aboard the International Space Station can't come home for the holidays, but they're doing their best to make the season bright hundreds of miles above Earth's surface.

The spacefliers have decked the halls of the $100 billion orbiting lab, and — like many of us Earthbound folks — they plan to celebrate Christmas with a party and a feast.

"We've already put up decorations, and we've gathered together all the cards and gifts that our friends and families have sent to us, and we're planning a couple of big meals," NASA astronaut Dan Burbank, commander of the space station's current Expedition 30 mission, said last week. "That'll be great."
And now, here is some Christmas-themed science news that is down to Earth.

Discovery News via MSNBC: Rudolph's red nose has nothing on his eyes
Study: Reindeer the first large mammal known to have UV vision
December 24, 2011
The reindeer of Christmas myth must meet high expectations this time of year — not just hauling heavy loads of gifts over long distances — but also helping navigate from the tundra to the rest of the world.

And even though most real reindeer never pull sleighs through snowy nights, new research suggests that their eyes would be far better suited to the task than Santa's are. Unlike people, the study found, reindeer can see ultraviolet light — which probably allows them to detect food and predators in a mostly white environment.

The study makes reindeer the first large mammal known to have UV vision. And it raises questions about how animals that are highly specialized to their environments will adapt as their environments change.
MSNBC: 10 gifts of science for Christmas
Frankincense, mistletoe and why a shot of brandy is good for you (really!)

Explorations in Antiquity Center via PR Newswire: One-of-a-Kind Place in the US Offers One-of-a-Kind Trip Back to the Days of the First Christmas

LAGRANGE, Ga., Dec. 20, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- A one-of-a-kind place in the US, the Explorations in Antiquity Center in LaGrange, Georgia offers visitors the chance to take a one-of-a-kind trip back to the days of the first Christmas. This extraordinary attraction offers visitors the chance to experience life in the days of the first century with an engaging series of events this holiday season. Only at the Explorations in Antiquity Center will a visitor travel the road to Bethlehem through a garden of life size archaeological replicas of places which existed during the time of the first Christmas.

Founded in 2006 by Dr. James Fleming, Ed D, the Explorations in Antiquity Center, an interactive biblical archaeological museum, offers many ways for visitors to immerse their senses in ancient times. It is a museum and educational facility with programs for all ages; its mission is: "to help people experience the ancient Biblical world, its history and culture."
Merry Christmas!

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