Volume 13, Issue 51 ~ December 22 - December 28, 2005

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Sky Watch

by J. Alex Knoll

Cold, Long Nights with the Yule Moon

December’s full moon and winter solstice mark season of hope and love

Thursday’s Yule Moon shines high overhead, at the summit of the celestial zenith with the stroke of midnight. Algonquian tribes called December’s full moon the snow moon and also the oak moon, perhaps for the amount of the high-BTU wood burnt these long, cold nights.

This is also the Long Moon and Long Nights Moon, fitting for the full moon closest to winter solstice, the longest night of the year this Wednesday.

The moon appears as the sun sets all too early at 4:49pm and shines until the return of daylight 14 hours and 34 minutes later at 7:23am. Thereafter, sunlight creeps back into our days, a few seconds each evening as we approach the year’s latest sunset January 5, but then almost 10 minutes a week.

This turning point between night and day, darkness and light coincides well with Christmas, the birth of the Christ Child, who brings forth the light of hope and love. Historians and skeptics point out that Christ’s birth was most likely not December 25th, but they miss, perhaps, a bigger point than a date some 2,000 years past.

Step outside this evening, but not with your poly-fill vest or your Thinsulate jacket — perhaps a woolen cloak. Back indoors, turn off your furnace, your boiler, your heat pump. The fireplace? You can keep that burning — but don’t run out of wood or let the fire die in the night. For water, maybe you’re fortunate and have a well outside deep enough not to freeze, otherwise trek to the nearest stream or thaw snow. Brrrr…

Yes, these are long, cold winter nights, and we all look to the heavens for the signs of light. So whether you rejoice at the birth and light of Christ or whether you celebrate the return of light in a literal sense, may your days — and nights — be full of hope and love.

© COPYRIGHT 2004 by New Bay Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved.