Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Orion and the Dancing Christmas Tree

I have a lot of Christmas-related blogging to get to, but first a vignette from tonight. After Celeste's bath, we went outside to look at the moon. After the rain of last night, the sky was exceptionally clear and we had, despite the light pollution inside the Beltway, a very good view of a fair number of stars. Orion's belt was very evident, so I pointed out the belt — Alnitak (ζ Orionis), Alnilam (ε Orionis), and Mintaka (δ Orionis) — as well as the shoulders — Betelgeuse (α Orionis) and Bellatrix (γ Orionis) — and his knees — Rigel (β Orionis) and Saiph (κ Orionis).

I told her how constellations were a way people would identify patterns in the night sky and how various legends were associated with them. I told her how Orion was a great ancient Greek hunter. And I pointed again to the belt and the shoulders and knees.

Celeste looked at where I was pointing in the sky and then looked across the street and said, very excitedly, "That Christmas tree dancing!" pointing at a blinking tree in a neighbor's house.

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