Enjoy our holiday countdown


The space shuttle Discovery sits like a jewel in its launch-pad setting at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, as seen by the GeoEye-1 satellite on Nov. 1 from an altitude of 425 miles.

The space shuttle has never flown as high as 425 miles, but that’s how high the GeoEye-1 satellite was when it snapped this picture of the shuttle Discovery on its launch pad on Nov. 1. Discovery is due to set off on its 39th and final mission no earlier than Dec. 17 — which means it would still be in orbit on Christmas Day.

GeoEye-1’s view of Discovery serves as the first holiday treat for our Cosmic Log Space Advent Calendar, which will feature a different view of Earth from space on each day from now until Christmas. The idea isn’t exactly new: Advent calendars have been a holiday tradition for centuries, and a couple of years ago, The Big Picture at Boston.com began offering up an online calendar countdown of Hubble images.

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Last year, the Planetary Society’s Emily Lakdawalla followed suit with an Advent calendar of solar system images. And this year, the folks behind the Zooniverse Web portal (incorporating Galaxy Zoo, Moon Zoo and more) are offering an online Advent calendar that really looks like an Advent calendar.

We can only hope that our Earth-centered holiday countdown works out as well. Let’s hope it adds an extra layer of meaning to the phrase “Peace on Earth.” Come back to Cosmic Log (or Photoblog) tomorrow and every day until Christmas for a fresh holiday treat.

Here’s wishing you a happy holiday season, with true peace on Earth and goodwill toward all.

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Tip o’ the Log to Alan Taylor at The Big Picture and Emily Lakdawalla at the Planetary Society, as well as the good folks of the Zooniverse. Connect with the Cosmic Log community by “liking” the log’s Facebook page or following @b0yle on Twitter.

URL: http://photoblog.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2010/12/01/5562757-enjoy-our-holiday-countdown?chromedomain=cosmiclog

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