Eastern Michigan University students sought holiday spirit in the stars at the school’s planetarium on Saturday. “The Seasons of Light” event held by the astronomy department explored how astronomical movements play into many end of the year celebrations and the history behind these celebrations.
From the Celtics, who would light huge bonfires in early November to try to coax the Sun further up into the sky, to the fifteen-day solstice celebration of the Hopi tribes, the stars have played a role in creating many memorable holiday traditions. While many no longer celebrate the solstice, our own holiday traditions come from these celebrations of the year’s end.
In the season of darkness, where Sun sets earlier and rises later, the lights of the season brighten up the world. Like people of the ancient times we seek light, during the time of darkness, with celebrations. Whether we seek the lights from the Christmas tree, the stars, or the Menorah, light plays a pivotal role in the holiday season.
The program at the planetarium went through the history of many of the traditions of both Christmas and Hanukah, exploring the importance of light and each of their underlying traditions.
During the program, the audience looked to the sky in a twenty-minute presentation of what could be seen in the night during the winter months. It included a short tutorial on how to find major stars, constellations and celestial objects seen by the naked eye, for the backyard star gazer.
With holiday music playing throughout the hour-long program, “The Seasons of Light” was the perfect way for students to relax before dealing with finals, and get into the holiday spirit, while still learning something new.