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BellaOnline's Astronomy Editor

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Seasonal Stories

These articles contain a wide selection of astronomical information, but each is based around a seasonal or topical theme.

Astronomical Valentines star
Valentine's Day. Is it a romantic day or one invented by greeting card companies and sellers of luxury goods? It certainly isn't an astronomical holiday, but whatever your view of the day, you can enjoy this selection of cosmic valentines.

Astronomy April Fools star
Mercury has a moon? The Jovian-Plutonian Gravitational Effect will give you a floating feeling? The Space Station has an alien visitor? Virgin Galactic has bought Pluto and has plans for getting it reinstated as a planet? Nope. These are a examples of April Fool hoaxes and jokes.

Autumnal Equinox star
Autumn begins on the equinox as the Sun crosses the equator. Equinoxes were celebrated by the earliest known civilizations and still are in many places. One of the biggest celebrations these days is the Chinese Moon Festival. A traditional palace or garden probably has a moon-watching pavilion.

Christmas in the skies star
Christmas is a special day with a magic of its own. A Christmas eclipse is a great treat and centuries ago a long-awaited comet finally showed up on Christmas day. On the other hand, imagine spending the holidays a quarter of a million miles from home, as the crew of Apollo 8 did.

Cosmic Ghosts Ghouls and Vampires star
Astronomers use colorful language for cosmic objects. But unlike ghosts, ghouls and vampires in horror stories, the cosmic ones arenīt scary late at night. Here are tales of the birth, evolution and death of stars, a blinking demon and a star that, at Halloween, seems like the Sunīs ghost.

Cosmic Halloween Tour star
Join us on a Halloween astronomical tour. See a cosmic witch and cosmic ghosts, spiders and snakes, and fiery skull. But have no fear. It's a virtual tour and all these objects are a very long way away.

Halloween star
Halloween falls midway between an equinox and a solstice. In the ancient Celtic world it was the new year's eve and start of winter - time to prepare for survival in the darkening days. But also a time when the boundary between our world and the otherworld weakened. Who knew what might cross it?

Mother's Day - an Astronomy Bouquet star
Flowers from the florist are popular for Mother's Day. But for really stellar mothers, here is a cosmic floral tribute with links to some dazzling astronomical images.

Summer Solstice - St John's Day star
Each day for six months after the winter solstice, the Sun rises a bit higher in the sky. It reaches the maximum height at the summer solstice, the longest day. Evidence of rituals and festivals at the times of the solstices goes back thousands of years.

Thanksgiving in Space star
Many foods are associated with a traditional American Thanksgiving dinner. But what do you suppose would be on the menu for Thanksgiving in space? Would you have to squeeze turkey paste out of a tube and get gelatin-covered dessert cubes? No. Food has improved since the early days of space flight.

Vernal Equinox star
You've made it through the winter and watched the food stores diminish. But the days are getting longer and green shoots are appearing. Spring is on the way. The festivals of the vernal equinox emphasize rebirth and renewal. In many cultures the equinox is also the New Year.

What Was the Star of Bethlehem? star
The Star of Bethlehem is one of the loveliest symbols of Christmas. But what was it? Simply an inspired idea to emphasize the spiritual importance of the story? Or was it based on an actual astronomical happening?

Winter Solstice star
For six months, each day has been shorter than the last, the Sun lower in the sky. Will it disappear altogether and leave the people bereft in the dark cold winter? The winter solstice is the shortest day of the year and is associated with more festivals than any other astronomical event.

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