Planets and Shooting Stars on Display

by Sid Baglini

Wednesday, December 7, 2022, 7:00 P.M.

Dig out your woolly socks and your warmest winter gear and join us for a walk under The Full Cold Moon.  This is a name that needs no explanation although sometimes it underperforms and we Moonwalkers are “cool” instead of “cold”.  Other names for the December Full Moon relate to the plunging temperatures associated with the winter solstice which falls on December 21st at 4:47 PM this year. The Chinese call it The Bitter Moon. Our indigenous people preferred Hoar Frost Moon (Cree), Snow Moon (Cherokee), and Winter Making Moon (Abenaki).  Even more bone chilling are the references to a phenomenon caused when the tree sap freezes, expanding until the bark splits causing a sound like a gunshot.  Frost Exploding Trees Moon (Cree) and Moon of Popping Trees (Ogalala and Dakota) say it all.  Safe within our homes, we don’t experience this, but for Native Americans in their tents or wigwams, the sounds emanating from the exploding trees must have made for fitful sleep. Members of the Dakota Tribe observed it as the Moon When Deer Shed Their Antlers while the Mohicans referenced the relationship of the December Full Moon to the winter solstice calling it The Long Night Moon. 

Tis the season for gifts and we get a celestial one on the evening of our walk.  The Moon will appear to pass very close above Mars, even hiding it which is called an occultation. It will appear as a bright orangish “star” just below the Moon. Jupiter, Uranus and Saturn will also be on display in the evening sky. 

A second gift is the Geminids Meteor Shower which occurs between December 4th-16th. It will peak on the 13th into the early morning of the 14th. When it peaks, it averages 75 meteors per hour. If that sounds like a lot, it’s because it is the most active meteor shower of the year. After 9 PM until about 2 AM are the best hours for viewing but the Geminids Meteor Shower puts on a show all night long so maybe we will see a “shooting star” on our walk.

We usually try to build in some Earthly lights during our December walks, admiring the decorations that shine throughout our community so please plan to join us for an “enlightening” evening walk.  We meet in the parking lot of the Baptist Church at the intersection of First and Channing Avenues.  All ages are welcome.


Also happening on Wednesday, December 7th

Forgotten Films at 7:15 pm.

The featured film will be the British holiday comedy Bernard and the Genie, “a rollicking tale of good versus evil delivered by an impressive cast of comedians” written by Richard Curtis (writer of Four Weddings and a Funeral, Love Actually, Bridget Jones’ Diary and Notting Hill). Starring Alan Cumming, Lenny Henry and Rowan Atkinson. “The holiday classic you never saw.”

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