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November 2003

Release Date: November 26, 2003

Season of Lights to Highlight Holidays at ASU Planetarium

"Season of Lights," a program focusing on the historical, religious and cultural rituals practiced during the winter solstice, will be featured at the Angelo State University Planetarium the first three Thursdays of December.

The presentation will examine Christian and Jewish practices as well as Celtic, pagan, Nordic, Roman, Egyptian and Hopi rituals. The planetarium show will be offered at 8 p.m. Thursdays, Dec. 4, 11 and 18, in the ASU Planetarium in the Vincent Nursing-Physical Science Building at 2333 Vanderventer on the ASU campus.

Season of Lights also examines some of our more light-hearted seasonal traditions such as gift giving, kissing under the mistletoe, decking the halls with greenery and candles, and songs about lords a-leaping and ladies dancing. The customs behind St. Nicholas, Sinterklaas, Kris Kringle and Father Christmas are explored. Santa Claus drops by as well.

Naturally, the astronomy of the holiday season is highlighted in Season of Lights. The show displays a few Northern winter constellations and illustrates why we have seasons by following the Sun's path across the sky throughout the year and the Earth's tilt and orbit around the Sun.

The program explores the possible astronomical explanations for a "Star over Bethlehem," including discussions of comets, meteors, novae and supernovae, as well as planetary conjunctions that could account for the "star" reported by the Magi.

The program is narrated Noah Adams, host of National Public Radio's afternoon news program "All Things Considered."

Season of Lights is open to the public. Admission price is $3 for adults and $1.50 for children, students, and senior citizens. ASU students, faculty and staff are admitted free.

For more information, please call Mark Sonntag at the planetarium, 942-2136.