Here's a Christmas postcard that, for the life of me, I don't know how in the world I didn't think to post before I left for some time off. It's so simple: A passion of mine and my favorite time of year. It should have jumped right out at me! Ironically, the pace of the season and the eagerness to get some time away conspired to leave a vacuum in my head, I suppose. By the time I thought of it, I was too far into — and enjoying — my time away. But I can't resist this: This past December was the 40th anniversary of Apollo 8, the first time humans ever left Earth's orbit and the first time human eyes saw Luna, our moon, in close proximity (60 miles). Those alive will never forget "Christmas from the Moon" as the Apollo 8 Crew — Commander Frank Borman, Command Module pilot Jim Lovell and Lunar Module Pilot William Anders — orbited the moon on Christmas Eve and sent all of us on "the good Earth" a special message. It was especially meaningful given the horrible year 1968 was, not unlike what we experienced in 2008.

Most astronauts will tell you that you cannot go into outer space, whatever your religious beliefs are, and not come home believing in a higher power. Even the non-religious astronauts say as much. Science and the Truth are compatible, after all, just as this memorable video postcard is.

We hope all of you had a special Christmas season and that the New Year is treating you well thus far; and that 2009 will be a meaningful, joyous, prosperous, healthy and safe one for all of you and your loved ones. I hope you enjoy this intersection of my interests and joys (NASA history and Christmastime).