A cosmic Christmas wreath glows in the sky, adorned by a celestial garnet.
This nebula, known as IC 1396, shines in the constellation of Cepheus the king, now high overhead on early winter evenings in the northern hemisphere. It’s a bubble of gas blown by new stars amid the interstellar wreath.
At top, shining like a Christmas light on the wreath, is an orange star. This is Mu Cephei, also known as the Garnet Star. It’s a red supergiant, roughly 1,500 times bigger than our Sun. If it replaced our Sun at the centre of our solar system it would engulf all the planets out to and including Jupiter.
Be happy Mu sits 1,000 light years away!
Happy holidays! And happy solstice. Winter arrives in the northern hemisphere at 6:03 p.m. EST on Sunday, December 21. That’s the shortest day and longest night of the year, for all those north of the equator.
– Alan, December 20, 2014 / © 2014 Alan Dyer
3 Replies to “A Cosmic Christmas Wreath”
Alan, thank you for such wonderful images this past year. All the best for the new year!!
Such a beautiful photograph Alan. Wishing you a very Happy Solstice!
What a gorgeous picture and perfect for Christmas! I wish my eyes and telescope could see these details. Thanks for bringing them into focus.