Monday, November 2, 2009

Like swirling shiny flakes sparkling in a snow globe...

Glittering Metropolis of Stars

Like swirling, shiny flakes sparkling in a snow globe, this image captures an instantaneous glimpse of many hundreds of thousands of stars moving about in the globular cluster M13, one of the brightest and best-known globular clusters in the northern sky. This glittering metropolis of stars is easily found in the winter sky in the constellation Hercules and can even be glimpsed with the unaided eye under dark skies.

M13 is home to over 100,000 stars and located at a distance of 25,000 light-years. These stars are packed so closely together in a ball, approximately 150 light-years across, that they will spend their entire lives whirling around in the cluster.

Near the core of this cluster, the density of stars is about a hundred times greater than the density in the neighborhood of our sun. These stars are so crowded that they can, at times, slam into each other and even form a new star, called a "blue straggler." The brightest reddish stars in the cluster are ancient red giants. These aging stars have expanded to many times their original diameters and cooled. The blue-white stars are the hottest in the cluster.

Globular clusters have some of the oldest stars in the universe, which likely formed before our Milky Way, so they are older than nearly all other stars in our galaxy. Studying globular clusters, therefore, tells us about the history of our galaxy.

This image is a composite of archival Hubble data taken with the Wide Field Planetary Camera 2 and the Advanced Camera for Surveys. Observations from four separate science proposals taken in November 1999, April 2000, August 2005, and April 2006 were used. The image includes broadband filters that isolate light from the blue, visible, and infrared portions of the spectrum.

Image Credit: NASA, ESA, and the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)
Acknowledgment: C. Bailyn (Yale University), W. Lewin (Massachusetts Institute of Technology), A. Sarajedini (University of Florida), and W. van Altena (Yale University)

by Sherri Anderson
I look to the sky at night and admire the beauty of the stars.
I stand in awe of their brilliance;
They are as shining and constant
as they have been since the beginning of time.
They light the heavens and fill our hearts with wonder.
When one burns out, another takes its place;for they are eternal.
Wherever you are, they guide you from their home high above the earth.
At times, they seem close enough to touch, as they transport your dreams far away.
Their magic compels us to offer up wishes for their consideration.
They make us realize that even when the sky is the darkest,
a tiny beacon of light still shines through.

They are God's reminder to us that some things really do go on forever.

I am not of the Catholic faith but the Catholic faith is a wealth of inspiration for me. I love how the feasts have taken very worldly, evil, non Godly celebrations and turned them into tools to worship and focus on God.

The second day of November is a busy one for parish priests. On that day, we celebrate three Masses for the dead. These liturgies follow directly on the previous day’s joyous celebration of the saints in glory. The living—those souls who are truly living because they have entered heaven, the Land of the Living

On the feast of All Souls, the Church tells us, “Remember!” In that act of remembering, we also must prepare for our own departure from this world, at a time of God’s choosing. Death is familiar to us, and we must not hide from it nor push it from our thoughts.
Rather, we must turn to the one who conquered death by his own death.

Remember heaven. The Land of the Living.

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