Some tasty bite-sized chunks of upbeat news to brighten the day.
A string of colourful plastic beads around her neck, this is the current Princess of Wales enjoying Christmas when she was almost two years old. The image, taken by the Middleton family in 1983, was released by Kensington Palace ahead of the Christmas Eve broadcast of the Princess’s carol concert. The young Princess-to-be, just two weeks shy of her second birthday, is pictured sitting at the table wearing a smart dress and a navy cardigan.
Good news for British skiers, as the new Eurostar Snow Train service is now running from London to Bourg St Maurice, the gateway to a cluster of France’s largest and most famous ski resorts - including Val d’Isère, Tignes, La Rosière, La Plagne and Les Arcs. In recent years this route has been teetering on the brink of extinction because of low-cost airlines, but with awareness that taking the train is better for the planet than flying - and also delivers better views - the new service looks to be wildly popular. Available between mid-December and February, Eurostar reported that over half of the available tickets were sold within their first week of sale.
They may not be the gold rings from "The Twelve Days of Christmas," but Uranus and its rings stand resplendent in this stunning portrait from the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST). This new portrait of the seventh planet from the sun reveals more of the atmosphere's workings as it nears its solstice in 2028.
Rare Night Parrot
Good news of a development in indigenous-led conservation, as rangers from the Kiwirrkurra traditional owners have recorded the calls of one of the world’s rarest birds, the night parrot. It's a ground-dwelling bird that flies, it does all its calling in spinifex bushes after nightfall. The ranger team in a remote area of the Gibson Desert in the central regions of the state of Western Australia has become only the fifth such team to record their calls. The calls are extremely valuable conservation data points, as they help define their current habitat areas. Once enough of these recordings have been taken, scientists studying the night parrot will be able to recommend specific spaces for conservation measures.
Illuminated frozen skyscrapers tower over the world's biggest ice city, part of China's Harbin International Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival. The annual event, in Heilongjiang province, kicked off on Sunday and is expected to attract 18 million visitors from across the globe.
Bye Bye Coal
E.U. approves German state aid for early closure of coal plants. The European Commission has agreed that Germany should be allowed to pay the energy giant RWE some €2.6 billion in state aid for the early closure of coal power stations. Under German law, no more electricity is to be produced from coal from 2038 onward. However, this new agreement moves the date forward to 2030.
"A snowball in the face is surely the perfect beginning to a lasting friendship." Markus Zusak
On This Day
21 December 1898: On this day in 1898, having recently discovered polonium, future Nobel Prize winners Marie and Pierre Curie discovered the radioactive chemical element radium, a silvery white metal that would be used to treat cancer.
Enjoy the rather mesmerising sight of massive locomotives plowing through snow.