Posts tagged ‘winter-solstice’

Lunar Eclipse on a Very Special Winter Solstice

From CBC.ca – This year’s winter solstice on Tuesday will fall on the same day as a full lunar eclipse for the first time in 456 years.

The rare, 72-minute lunar eclipse — when the sun, the Earth and the moon align — will begin in the early morning hours on Dec. 21 in North America, and should cast an amber glow on snowy landscapes, said NASA.

If you were to stand on the moon’s surface looking up at the sky, you would see Earth hanging above, nightside down, and completely hiding the sun behind it.

Rather than being completely dark, the Earth’s rim would appear as if it were on fire. Around its circumference, you would be seeing every sunrise and every sunset in the world at the same time.

This surrounding light will actually beam right into Earth’s shadow, giving it a rusty glow.

From the Earth, the moon would appear as a giant red orb because the only sunlight visible is refracted through the Earth’s atmosphere.

The moon will pass through the darkest part of the Earth’s shadow.

Tuesday marks the first day of winter in the northern hemisphere, and the winter solstice begins in the evening at 6:38 p.m. ET, which is 8:08 p.m. NT, 7:38 p.m. AT, 5:38 p.m. CT, 4:38 p.m. MT, and 3:38 p.m. PT.

Scientists said the last time a full lunar eclipse coincided with the winter solstice was in AD 1554. NASA forecasts that at 1:33 a.m. ET on Tuesday, “Earth’s shadow will appear as a dark red bite at the edge of the lunar disk.”

After roughly an hour, that “bite” will eventually grow to cover the whole moon. That stage, known as “totality,” will probably start at 2:41 a.m. ET and last 72 minutes.

As for the best time to witness the cosmic event, NASA suggests being outside at 3:17a.m., “when the moon will be in deepest shadow, displaying the most fantastic shades of coppery red.”

Although the arrival of the solstice cannot be seen, the moment describes the instant when the Earth’s axial tilt is farthest away from the sun, resulting in the shortest day of the year as well as the longest night of the year.

A Grinch-like View of the Holidays

Ahh, winter solstice.  The shortest day of the year.  Shouldn’t we turn our clock’s ahead or remove an hour or something?  Sometimes I wish it was the shortest week of the year, too.

Winter solstice is one of the two most prominent celestial days which is celebrated by many cultures around the world.  The other is summer solstice.

The early Julian calendar recognized December 25 as winter solstice, hence the reason to celebrate Christmas on this day.  Hark now hear:  Jesus was not born on Christmas day.  We celebrate Christmas because it’s the pagan day of new light.

Christian or not, it’s great to have the time off work.  However, this is the first time I’ve had to work through the holidays.  But at least I got the statutory holidays.

Did you know that Christmas is most commonly associated with seasonal depression?  More mental illness occurs during the holidays than any other time of the year.

And it’s no small wonder.  The TV specials and the music is so repetitive and annoying.  Heck!  I was sick and tired of Rudoph and The Grinch when I was a boy.  As for Christmas carols, even Rob Halford of Judas Priest has put out a Christmas album.  Still, I’m strangely fascinated by Andrea Bocelli’s renditions of Here Comes Santa Claus and Jingle Bells, which is sung with The Muppets.  I think it’s his accent.  Give me Death Metal Christmas, or Give me Death.

Most of the world doesn’t even celebrate the birth of Jesus.  I kinda feel sorry for my fellow Jewish people, as well as the Muslims, Buddhists, Sihks and Hindus having to put up with all the Christian hoopla at this time of the year.

Last week, I was riding the YRT bus and sat behind an older women who was reading a tattered Qu’ran prayerbook.  I was quite surprised when she put away her Qu’ran, proceeded to take out her Blackberry and began checking e-mail.  Curious, I looked to see what kind of e-mail she was responding to. 

I noticed that each e-mail she read was signed off “Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.”

Not only was this Muslim woman being subject to a breach of her privacy (by me, reading over her shoulder), clearly she had a case of harassment, if not discrimination, repeatedly having to endure references to “Christmas”.

It is also the season of the biggest lie.

At this time of the year, we convince the people we Love the most, our children, of the existence of a mythical figure.  An overly friendly old man that watches them all day long (even when they are sleeping).  In some places, this man with the fake laugh, offers our children gifts and candy.  Despite their objections, even their cries for help, we place our children ON HIS LAP!  Then we allow other strangers to photograph our children in this compromising position.

How many times have we warned our children from consorting with strangers?  Talk about sending mixed messages.

Would you put your child on the lap of a priest if you seen him in the mall?

That’s a great segue back into the true meaning of Christmas.  A celebration of Christianity, right?  NO!  The Mall.  It’s consumerism all the way, baby!

Christmas is a necessary economic driver for many different industries around the world.  Retail, service, food services and travel.  The money made on the holiday of holidays has nothing to do with some guy named Jesus.

But all that buying and gift-giving has to do with the Spirit of Christmas, goodwill toward men and all that, right?  Well, not really.  The biggest shopping day of the year in Canada is the day AFTER Christmas.

Despite these Grinch-like observances, there are a few things I enjoy about Christmas.  Everyone is generally cheerful.  It is a great time to celebrate life and family.  I do enjoy getting together with my family.  The food is always good and plentiful. 

But most of all, Christmas time is for the children.  My children: pagan, Midewiwin Anishinaabeg – with their wannabe Jewish, Midewiwin dad.  They Love Christmas…  the carols, the TV specials, Christmas cards, the tree, the presents and even the mythical characters:  Santa and baby Jesus.  I do it all for them.

I’m not much for presents and consumerism myself.  But give me some chocolate Santas, Nutchos, pickled beets and multiple opportunities for free turkey, and I’ll quietly go with the flow.