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Photo Information

What looks much like craggy mountains on a moonlit evening is actually the edge of a nearby, young, star-forming region NGC 3324 in the Carina Nebula. Captured in infrared light by the Near-Infrared Camera (NIRCam) on NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope, this image reveals previously obscured areas of star birth. Called the Cosmic Cliffs, the region is actually the edge of a gigantic, gaseous cavity within NGC 3324, roughly 7,600 light-years away. The cavernous area has been carved from the nebula by the intense ultraviolet radiation and stellar winds from extremely massive, hot, young stars located in the center of the bubble, above the area shown in this image. The high-energy radiation from these stars is sculpting the nebula’s wall by slowly eroding it away. NIRCam – with its crisp resolution and unparalleled sensitivity – unveils hundreds of previously hidden stars, and even numerous background galaxies. Several prominent features in this image are described below. • The “steam” that appears to rise from the celestial “mountains” is actually hot, ionized gas and hot dust streaming away from the nebula due to intense, ultraviolet radiation. • Dramatic pillars rise above the glowing wall of gas, resisting the blistering ultraviolet radiation from the young stars. • Bubbles and cavities are being blown by the intense radiation and stellar winds of newborn stars. • Protostellar jets and outflows, which appear in gold, shoot from dust-enshrouded, nascent stars. • A “blow-out” erupts at the top-center of the ridge, spewing gas and dust into the interstellar medium. • An unusual “arch” appears, looking like a bent-over cylinder. This period of very early star formation is difficult to capture because, for an individual star, it lasts only about 50,000 to 100,000 years – but Webb’s extreme sensitivity and exquisite spatial resolution have chronicled this rare event. Located roughly 7,600 light-years away, NGC 3324 was first cat

Photo by Space Telescope Science Institute

Canceled: March 26 Concert - "The Planets"

24 Mar 2023 | Staff Sgt. Chase Baran United States Marine Band

The U.S. Marine Band concert scheduled for 2 p.m., Sunday, March 26 at Northern Virginia Community College's Schlesinger Center has been canceled due to a water main break. The Planets will be rescheduled during the 2024 concert season.

Buckle up for T-minus 10 to blast off! The Marine Band’s trajectory is set for a journey through space, admiring the range of musical character Gustav Holst imagined for Earth’s celestial neighbors in his ever-popular masterpiece, The Planets, as well as other space-inspired compositions. In addition, images of outer space, captured by the James Webb Space Telescope, will be on display during the event, and a special video message from NASA Administrator Bill Nelson will be presented prior to the performance, commemorating the Marine Band’s 225th anniversary year.

The concert, which is free and open to the public, will take place at 2 p.m. on Sunday, March 26, at the Rachel M. Schlesinger Concert Hall and Arts Center in Alexandria, Va.

Program & Notes

“It’s the collaboration between two government agencies that I find exciting about this performance,” Associate Director Maj. Ryan Nowlin said. “Two historic institutions are bringing galaxies within reach of the audience through the music and stunning images captured in space. It shows what’s best about our government and ability to work together.”

This musical interstellar expedition will also make stops light years away at the North Star by Anthony Barfield and the Andromeda Galaxy, a Magellanic Cloud, and the Milky Way in David Gillingham’s Galactic Empires.

North Star features solos by trumpet and trombone, and is based on The Underground Railroad - a network of secret routes and safe houses that African American slaves used to obtain freedom. Since the majority of the slaves could not read, they learned a song called "Follow the Drinking Gourd" wherein the lyrics provided escape instructions and a map. Many slaves escaped at night and used the North Star (Polaris) and the Big Dipper (the drinking gourd) as a guide.

“This piece is challenging for me since it was written for Allen Vizzuti, who is really known for his upper register playing and brilliance of sound,” Principal Trumpet Gunnery Sgt. Amy McCabe said. “It’s inspiring me to reach new heights!”

“I really enjoy how the composer, Anthony Barfield, took full advantage of the trombone and what it, in my opinion, does best,” Trombonist Staff Sgt. Russell Sharp said. “He truly capitalizes on the full register of the instrument and the beautiful ‘soaring’ capability of the trombone.”

Like some of his best-known work, Gillingham’s Galactic Empires is programmatic, describing a narrative outside of the music. The composer describes the three-movement piece as “a musical journey through only three of an infinite number of galaxies, two foreign and one which is our own Milky Way.”

Some may recall the iconic five-note motif central to the plot in Steven Spielberg’s 1977 sci-fi film Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Musical selections from the movie will kick off the performance, marking the first time this concert season the Marine Band’s orbit will cross with Maestro John Williams’ work. (See July 16 performance at the Kennedy Center – ticket details TBA).

Rachel M. Schlesinger Concert Hall and Arts Center is located at 4915 East Campus Drive in Alexandria. Free parking is available in the adjacent garage.

Program & Notes