Bach, Shakespeare and space for Advent

3rd December 2012

Time was in our house when the Advent calendar was the centre of the world right through December. But now our eldest, Nicholas, is studying at Ningbo in China (and blogging his time there), his brother Ben is reading geography at Nottingham, and even their sister Kate is in the process of putting away childish things. So forgive me if transfer my Advent attentions here with recommendations (albeit three days late) for three daily online offerings: A Bach Christmas calendar from BBC Radio 3, Sonnets for Advent from Blogging Shakespeare, and the 2012 Hubble Space Telescope Advent calendar from The Atlantic.Radio 3’s A Bach Christmas calendar first went online in December 2005 but the day release pattern of these podcasts seems to be working well again seven years on. Each day a new box leads to a discussion of an aspect of Bach’s life and work, plus a musical example. Beautifully simple.

Paul Edmondson from the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust is highlighting one of Shakespeare’s Sonnets each day through to Christmas Day. You get the text and an audio reading, as in this post for 1 December. For Twitter updates, follow @ShakespeareBT.

It would of course be remiss of me to highlight any other version of the Sonnets without mentioning our wonderful iPad app Shakespeare’s Sonnets produced with Touch Press, Faber and Faber and The Arden Shakespeare. Plus, all 155 filmed performances from the app of the Sonnets read by the likes of Patrick Stewart, David Tennant, Fiona Shaw and Harriet Walter are included in a DVD version, which is available for purchase here.

For simple wonder at the glories and grandeur of the universe, there is nothing better than the Advent calendar from The Atlantic. Each day until 25 December the website will present a new image from NASA’s Hubble telescope. See the caption below for info about the header image here, and for Twitter updates, follow @in_focus.

Image: from The Atlantic – NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope shows a rare view of a pair of overlapping galaxies, called NGC 3314. The two galaxies appear to be colliding, but they are actually separated by tens of millions of light-years, or about ten times the distance between our Milky Way and the neighboring Andromeda galaxy. The chance alignment of the two galaxies, as seen from Earth, gives a unique look at the silhouetted spiral arms in the closer face-on spiral, NGC 3314A. The motion of the two galaxies indicates that they are both relatively undisturbed and that they are moving in markedly different directions. (NASA, ESA, the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)-ESA/Hubble Collaboration, and W. Keel, University of Alabama)

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