Shortest Day vs Longest Night

The Northern Lights are probably the most impressive astronomical event I have ever seen.  The only things that come close are the comets Halle Bop and Kahoutek.  The Aurora Borealis crackle across the sky.  They shimmer and wave with green, red and yellow colors.  We don’t see them here in Prescott but I still imagine them.  On a walk, on a cold, clear night it seems like they may be possible.  The Solstice in on my mind. It seems to be little understood these days. When I was eighteen I worked in a new planetarium in Salt Lake City and we gave tours to school children and the general public every day. We had “moon rocks” which were a real novelty; since we hadn’t been to the moon yet. We would explain the solstices and the equinoxes, Northern Lights, nebulae, and the new concept of black holes. When you would get a group of kids in the star chamber, explain pitch and roll, and give one of them the joystick, hold on to your lunch. http://Northern Lights


When I was 18 I worked in a new planetarium in Salt Lake City.  One of the best star shows that the engineers produced was the one about the Winter Solstice.  Sometimes I think about living in the far North, seeing that low winter sun slide across the Southern horizon in midday, and I understand the fear that the sun won’t return to warm you.  So, the celebration of the Winter Solstice ensures that the days will get longer again and crops can be planted and that they will grow.  Perhaps the Solstice is the reason for the season.  There was a rough cop show on TV a few seasons ago called “Low Winter Sun”.  It was set in Detroit, in the winter, with very little light.  The cops were crooked and brutal with each other and with the criminal class.  There was little light or warmth and the story line seemed only too true.  I miss that show.

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