After Dark Online: Celestial—Winter Solstice

Thursday, December 17, 2020 • 7:00 p.m. PST

Adults Only (18+)

Free online event: Join below or via YouTube or Facebook

Lighten up your outlook as we observe the end of the sun’s journey across the horizon. The winter solstice marks the longest night of the year and return of daylight as our star reverses its apparent course in the sky. Learn about the significance of the solstice and the mechanics that make it possible, and celebrate the light during this final After Dark Online of the year. 

The movements and mechanics of the planets, moons, and stars create awesome effects for us observers on earth. Predictable yet coincidental, these cycles among the stars lead to gravitational bulges, lunar alignments, and a turnaround of apparent motion. Join us this month as we explore these effects as opportunities for wonder and harbingers of future change.

This program features:

San Francisco: Winter Solstice by David C. Hill 
San Francisco: Winter Solstice (2014, 4 min.) is a gentle observation of the light, shadow, and sweeping gradient of clouds across the cityscape from a single hilltop during the winter solstice. 

Observing the Solar Cycle with Alonso Mendez and Isabel Hawkins
This expansive conversation with Exploratorium astronomer Isabel Hawkins and cultural astronomer Alonso Mendez connects the winter solstice with other astronomical events through ancient sites in mesoamerica and the American southwest. As a scholar of the Maya, Alonso reveals the intimate links between the sky and cultural values of civilizations past and present. 

More to Explore:

Chaco Canyon
Chaco Canyon is a shallow, ten-mile canyon situated in northwestern New Mexico, seventy miles from the nearest town and accessible only by dirt roads. The canyon was carved from ancient sea beds by centuries of erosion; millions of years of history reveal themselves in the layers of rock and the fossils embedded in them. In addition, evidence suggests that the Chacoans were expert skywatchers with clear knowledge of the patterns of the sun, moon, and stars.

Broadcasts from Chaco Canyon

Ongoing research by the Solstice Project

Science Snacks

Make shadow observations of your own with these Science Snacks from our Teacher Institute.

Outdoor Shadows

Self-Centered Globe