Happy Halloween from the Universe!

I had a dream, which was not all a dream.

The bright sun was extinguish’d, and the stars

Did wander darkling in the eternal space… –Lord Byron, Darkness

Or, in other words, boo!

Halloween, believe it or not, is an astronomical holiday! The two solstices and two equinoxes are obvious astronomical holidays, since they correspond to the days of greatest, least, and equal daylight/night everywhere in both the Northern and Southern Hemispheres.

But halfway in-between each solstice and equinox lie the cross-quarter days. Just as we still mark the winter solstice (almost) with Christmas and the vernal equinox (almost) with Easter, we mark the cross-quarter days (almost) with minor holidays, including Groundhog Day, May Day, and Halloween, which comes from the old Celtic Samhain.

So happy Halloween from me, the Universe, and Bok globule Sh 2-136. I’ve got my costume all picked out, but no pictures until the weekend! Any guesses?

Comments

  1. #1 Colin
    October 30, 2009

    Definitely a pirate. We must all do our part to fight global warming.

  2. #2 vaibhav
    October 30, 2009

    I would guess something related to dark matter

  3. #3 blueshifter
    October 30, 2009

    I bet you’re right. Ethan is going AS dark matter. he’ll wear a jet black catsuit with black mask and gloves, and he won’t interact with anyone else at the party, he’ll just sort of gravitate around the buffet table…

  4. #4 Lassi Hippeläinen
    October 31, 2009

    Just to celebrate Halloween, Tsien Hsue-shen, the father of the Chinese space programme, died at 98.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tsien_Hsue-shen

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