The Christmas Tree Cluster

This beautiful image shows the so-called Christmas Tree Cluster. The blue and white lights are produced by young stars emitting X-rays, detected by NASA’s Chandra satellite. Optical data from the National Science Foundation’s 0.9-meter WIYN telescope at Kitt Peak shows the gas in the nebula in green, corresponding to the tree’s pine needles, and infrared data from the Two Micron All Sky Survey shows the stars in the foreground plan and white background. This image has been appropriately rotated, so that the top of the tree appears towards the top of the image itself.

No Christmas tree bigger than this, definitely …
Image Credit: X-ray: NASA/CXC/SAO; Optical: T.A. Rector (NRAO/AUI/NSF and NOIRLab/NSF/AURA) and B.A. Wolpa (NOIRLab/NSF/AURA); Infrared: NASA/NSF/IPAC/CalTech/Univ. of Massachusetts; Image Processing: NASA/CXC/SAO/L. Frattare & J.Major

The cluster I’m talking about is NGC 2264, a bright open cluster surrounded by an extensive system of diffuse nebulosities.

I think it is not a futile exercise to see signs in the sky of the period we are living in, signs of our particular human history. While I understand that it is not particularly elegant to quote myself (even if, translating from Italian to English for this purpouse), anyway what I wanted to say is precisely what I wrote a few years ago, namely that

Heaven and Earth therefore live in a relationship of mutual connection, of mutual evolution, of symbiotic dynamism, of mutual necessity. They breathe, with a breath of potential, very fruitful alliance. Fruitful of a single, united movement: almost, conjugal. We are still too often stuck within outdated cosmological conceptions, where movement is just an “accident” and where profound reality is one of absolute stasis (…) Science today – as we know – donates us a model of the universe that dismantles and refutes past ridicules, sweeps away the “stationary” model, now irrevocably denied by the data. No, cosmos is not always the same, blocked by man himself due to a misunderstood idea of ​​disembodied perfection. Cosmos has a history, as does man.

And it’s very nice when the two stories intertwine, talk to each other, compare each other. For every moment of human history there is a specific universe, we know this by now. Somehow, we create the universe around us, an eloquent mirror of how our feelings are structured, of what shapes our soul, in every historical period.

So, merry Christmas wishes and long live this sky that communicates with the Earth, long live the softer and more relational universe that we are gradually discovering, gradually creating. Long live – now and forever – our magnificently imperfect humanity, which manages to speak with the stars .

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  1. This is beautiful 🙂 Thanks for sharing. Merry Christmas to you and your family.

  2. I wrote back to you albeit a tad bit late (my apologies), however the mail came back to me, Is your mailbox not working?


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