We didn’t do a Christmas tree last year, because we figured SteelyKid wasn’t yet old enough to be safe around it. We put one up this year, though, and she’s been very grown-up and careful around it, so all is well.
The return of the Chateau Steelypips Christmas tree means I can also revive a sort-of tradition here, namely the posting of pictures of ornaments with explanations of how they’re really about SCIENCE! (say that last word a la thomas Dolby for the full effect). We’ll start with an easy one:
This is a shiny green ball with a big ring around it. As this clearly isn’t one of the planets we have in our solar system, it must represent extrasolar planets, which now number in the hundreds. And you can even see a sort of a swirl on the ball, which represents the atmosphere of the planet, a very timely addition, as this year saw the spectroscopic observation of an exoplanet’s atmosphere.
So, here’s to astronomy, and the discovery of worlds beyond our Solar System.