Things are Looking Up. And Down.

Eagle Nebula
Image by Ethan Hein via Flickr

There are wonders all around us if we just take the time to notice: there is nothing ordinary except for the fuzzy filters our habits and low expectations impose on us.

Exhibit A: Wow! And we think there is nothing new under the sun.

A rat believed to be extinct for 11 million years, a spider with a foot-long legspan, and a hot pink cyanide-producing “dragon millipede” are among the thousand newly discovered species in the largely unexplored Mekong Delta region.

The Mekong has been described as a “biological treasure trove.” The organization’s report “First Contact in the Greater Mekong” says 519 plants, 279 fish, 88 frogs, 88 spiders, 46 lizards, 22 snakes, 15 mammals, four birds, four turtles, two salamanders and a toad were found.

Exhibit B: and beyond the sun, we have barely begun to boldly go. Thanks Alan at for this series. (Lots more Hubble Universe images here.)

There are new images being posted to the Hubble Telescope site through the holiday. I can’t think of many things as awe-inspiring and grounding as looking out beyond our tiny blue speck in all of the cosmos. This is especially fitting in this season of Advent. Do go spend some time looking at these images with your children.

As we head into the traditional western Holiday Season, I’d like to present this Hubble Space Telescope imagery Advent Calendar. Every day, for the next 25 days, a new photo will be revealed here from the amazing Hubble Space Telescope. As I take this chance to share these images of our amazing Universe with you, I wish for a Happy Holiday to all those who will celebrate, and for Peace on Earth to everyone.

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Fred First holds masters degrees in Vertebrate Zoology and physical therapy, and has been a biology teacher and physical therapist by profession. He moved to southwest Virginia in 1975 and to Floyd County in 1997. He maintains a daily photo-blog, broadcasts essays on the Roanoke NPR station, and contributes regular columns for the Floyd Press and Roanoke's Star Sentinel. His two non-fiction books, Slow Road Home and his recent What We Hold in Our Hands, celebrate the riches that we possess in our families and communities, our natural bounty, social capital and Appalachian cultures old and new. He has served on the Jacksonville Center Board of Directors and is newly active in the Sustain Floyd organization. He lives in northeastern Floyd County on the headwaters of the Roanoke River.

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  1. Fred, if you like those space photos, take a look at Astronomy Picture of the Day at . It’s a fascinating daily photo and explanation regarding something related to looking above the horizon. There’s a wonderful archive of photos going back several years. Pretty much all the most wonderful Hubble photos have shown up over the years. Enjoy…