That special time of year is nearly upon us and this year it has many more reasons to be special.  It is the solstice.  It is no coincidence that Christmas falls so closely to the solstice.  Many believe that the Christian festivals were timed to replace the festivals of old religions as a smooth transition rather than out with the old and in with the new.  If you are not convinced of this, then ponder the things that define Christmas other than the birth of Christ.  Things like the tree indoors, the red and white man that can travel up and down chimneys and the flying reindeer.  The Fly Agaric may be able to answer some of these oddities.

Equinoxes, solstices, and full moons were all significant gathering times for humans for tens of thousands of years.  This might explain the strange wandering timing of Easter; the first Sunday after the first full moon after the spring equinox.

Some books state the summer solstice as being the most important event, others say that it was the winter solstice.  In Ireland the winter solstice seems more significant with places like Newgrange aligned to it.  The winter solstice is the point where the sun is at its lowest in the sky and the shortest day and the longest night. The solstice was the sign to everyone that, although the hardest part of winter was yet to come, the sun was slowly crawling back and spring will return eventually.

This winter we find ourselves in a second cold snap before it is even January.  The metoffice suspect that it may end up being the coldest December since records began.  Is this a randomness of the weather system or has it deeper connections?

the waxing moon today

A more special and strange event will take place on the solstice this year (21st December).  It is irrelevant to the weather and would take place if we were here or not.  It is a stunning example of the mechanics of the sun, earth and moon.  Not only is it a full moon on the same day as the solstice but there is also a lunar eclipse!

how the moon should appear on tuesday just after 7am – close to the horizon looking NW

On Tuesday morning between 7am and 8am the moon will turn blood red.  If the sky is clear and it is visible it should be quite dramatic as it is close to the horizon.  Just before half seven would seem like the best time to see it as dawn will swamp it at 8am.  Look for it at the point were the sun normally sets on these winter nights, to the NorthWest.  I wonder what our ancestors would have concluded from such a sight if they too had such a winter.

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