Nov. 30, 2009 at 10:45 PM ET
A Hubble holiday card features a ribbon of gas in the supernova remnant SN 1006.
If you're seeking stars of wonder for the holiday season, the Hubble Space Telescope's bounty of cosmic imagery is a good place to start. You can choose from free e-cards, a Hubble Advent calendar and other outer-space goodies fit for three kings.
The HubbleSite's online card selection blends classic views of planets, nebulae and galaxies with classic holiday sentiments. You can choose from several sizes suited for standard card layouts. It's best if get your cards produced at a print shop or online photo service, but you can also print them out on your home printer.
If you're a do-it-yourselfer, HubbleSite's gallery can provide you with the raw material for a boxful of colorful holiday cards.
For the past six years, the European Space Agency's Hubble team has offered printable pages for a wall calendar featuring the space telescope's greatest hits - and although 2010 is not yet available, chances are that fresh pages will pop up before Christmas. You'll also find print-ready postcards and an updated "Hall of Fame" with images suitable for printing.
Last year, Boston.com's Alan Taylor offered up an online Advent calendar featuring Hubble imagery, and there's no reason why you couldn't click through the calendar again starting on Tuesday. The idea behind Advent calendars is that you have a fresh goodie to enjoy every day between Dec. 1 and Christmas. So if you want to get into the spirit of the tradition, you'll have to stop yourself from scrolling down past the image of the day.
Hubble's astronomers aren't the only space fans getting into the holiday spirit: The team behind NASA's Chandra X-Ray Observatory also offers e-cards for winter holidays, and for other occasions as well. For general-purpose greetings, the Old Farmer's Almanac has a selection of "Sky Watch" e-cards, and you can also check out the e-card gallery at the Sky at Night Web site.
Looking for more timely pictures? Our latest "Month in Space" picture roundup fills the bill. Here are links to bigger, print-worthy versions of the images featured this month:
Update for 1:26 p.m. ET Dec. 1: Boston.com has unveiled this year's Hubble Advent calendar, and the NORAD Tracks Santa Web site became fully operational today. So now it really is the holiday season online.
Update for 6:54 p.m. ET Dec. 1: The Planetary Society's Emily Lakdawalla gets into the holiday spirit by offering an online Advent calendar of planetary proportions.
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