Mortal as I am, I know that I am born for a day. But when I follow at my pleasure the serried multitude of the stars in their circular course, my feet no longer touch the earth - Ptolemy
Babe Among the Stars - Hallowe'en Special
Hello everyone and welcome to an extra-special spooky edition of Babe Among The Stars (aka BATS). I hope you're in the right frame of mind to look at some supernatural-looking objects, if not, perhaps you'd like to turn off the TV and room light and ignite a candle, which should set the mood. That's right, gather round and we'll take a peek at the
Witch Head Nebula, don't get too close though, or you'll hear her cackle! No self-respecting witch would be complete without her broom to fly around on, would she?
So, what frightens you? For me, it's fog. There's just something so eerie about it, while there's fog around it doesn't feel like I'm on the same planet. Imagine how I felt when I first saw this fogbank complete with dark silhouetted figure just waiting to pounce! If that doesn't make your skin crawl then how about we take a look at some ghosts. You didn't think there could be ghosts in outer space? Well, what's this then? It looks like a ghost's face to me! Perhaps you think this
eye-shaped nebula is more ghostly, I don't see it myself, but you may! Here's another ghostly image, the rather-aptly named Ghost of Jupiter. Ghost images aren't limited to nebulae, here's a rather pretty blue ghost galaxy, and what APOD described as a gigantic alien fairy, although that one has me scratching my head, I don't recall the fairies at the bottom of my garden looking quite like that!
Did you know how versatile our Moon is? There are times when it can look just like a pumpkin! Some clever editing created this composite of a total lunar eclipse to leave us just one step from Jack O'Lantern Moon!
Enough with the pretty stuff, let's get back on track with the terrifying Skull Nebula, make sure you concentrate on those two starry eyes, and you'll see the grinning exposed teeth of the jaws appear just below. Study hard and you'll make out the eye sockets; can you see any other skeletal features? If that has whetted your appetite - there's more. How about this skull-shaped nebula although with empty eye sockets I personally don't think it's as scary as this screaming skull. That's a hundred thousand light year-sized cloud of hot gas around a black hole, but don't worry about that, it's over 320 million light years away from our Solar System.
It's amazing what's out there. It's always nice to know something is keeping an eye on us though, isn't it? Just don't look at this galactic cannibal while you're having your supper! Mind how you go, and don't let this spooky nebula give you nightmares. Do make sure your candle is extinguished safely before you go to bed, and I hope things don't go bump in the night. Sleep tight!
- 28 Oct: New Moon (it will be completely invisible to us)
- 31 Oct: Hallowe'en aka Samhain - watch the skies for flying witches! The Moon will only be a teeny crescent, but it will still be enough to appear to gobble up the brilliant reddish star Antares (alpha Scorpii)
- 01 Nov: All Saints' Day - this is a Feast Day to remember all Saints and martyrs. You may prefer to remember Blackadder's thoughts on martyrs though:
- 02 Nov: All Souls' Day (sometimes called the Day of the Dead) - a day to pray for and remember friends, loved ones and anyone else you know who has gone to the great gig in the sky1 during the past year. You could also say thank you to the Grim Reaper for passing you by... for another year.
Sir Thomas Moore, for instance, burned alive for refusing to recant his Catholicism, must have been kicking himself as the flames licked higher, that it never occurred to him to say, 'I recant
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