The Winter Solstice

The winter solstice is an astrological  event visible in the Northern hemisphere in December.  It’s the shortest day of the year. It’s been noted  in the sky and celebrated by our ancestors for thousands of  years. A long long time ago the night sky was a wondrous, mysterious celestial map, studied and wondered and worried and talked about.

Today, sadly, with so many lights on earth, so many cities lit up like a jillion, multi-colored  jittery light bulbs, there are people in those cities who’ve never seen the stars. I think those ancients–certainly the great Hawaiian navigators– would think them ignorant,  I’ll bet they’d love the Observatories on Mauna Kea.  I’ll bet they’d embrace astronomy. There’s much to be learned from the past, but billions and billions more  to be learned from the present.

Remember, in the past, most men  feared  darkness–fear came  in as handy yesterday as it comes in handy today–and ancient wise men knew, because they’d measured this event for centuries, that the days would grow longer as the sun seemingly changed its direction. In three days the dark–the night sky–  would begin growing shorter.

Today we’ve advanced our scientific knowledge of what goes on–in our solar system as well as the cosmos–so vastly we make them look ignorant.  Today we are all,  potentially, brilliant human beings. A ll of us wise men capable of taking  a voyage of discovery as far back into the past and forward into the future as our curiosity sends us. Do you know,  with your fingers on the keyboard of a computer, you have more access to knowledge than Cleopatra had stored in  the Library in Alexandria?   Wowwowwow. I hope  parents and teachers share these exciting times  with the kids. Telescopes are wonderful Christmas presents.

We’re so lucky on Kauai, there are many places where the night sky is visible in all its splendor.  So take your kid to one of these places  on December  21st’ .   Step outside. For three nights  you’ll experience  the longest nights of the year. For three days, the Sun which had been traveling south, descends until it reaches a point where it stops–solstice actually mean ‘sun standing still’– and  on Kauai this event  begins on December 21st at 6:49PM.

Of course we now know the Sun doesn’t stand still.  Neither is it colder or hotter because of our distance from the sun. The tilt–and wobble– of the Earth’s axis in our hemisphere, the Northern Hemisphere, is leaning furthest away from the sun,  so the Sun is low in the sky and the rays strike the Earth at a shallow angle.  These rays are longer and therefore colder.   The entire planet has seasons because of the tilt and wobble, and we in Hawaii will begin the journey back to spring and  summer.  Spring and summer on Kauai is No Ka Oi. Sorry Maui.

Whatever you call it–Christmas, Yule, Chanukah, Saturnalia or Chaomos–enjoy.

Have a super solstice.

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