Yes Virginia, Santa Claus is Coming Tonight

Twenty five hundred years ago, the Greek philosopher, Plato, spoke about creation in a dialogue by Timaeus. Plato said the constellations were Godís embroidery of the heavens. So lets sew the heavens back together with some ancient celestial needle work. Let each star be a pin hole through which we can draw a crystalline thread. Great Square

Looking south we draw a line through the North Pole. That line is called the meridian. If we look up while facing south, the meridian divides the sky into east on the left, and west on the right. A circle drawn completely around the horizon is the limit of the stars we can see on midwinterís night at 7:15 PM on December 21, 1997 around Dallas. It takes six hours for the stars on the east horizon to reach the meridian line, and another six hours for them to reach the west horizon. In a full day, the stars would come back to the east horizon, and be four minutes above it. The sun appears to move four minutes east every day. The reason why this happens is that the planet we live on is running eastward around the sun. This trip takes about 365 1/4 days. Thus, every year at midwinterís night, the stars over Texas look pretty much the same.

But not quite, for you see, the earth wobbles like a top, and the meridian in the sky at 7:15 pm on December 21, will slowly move to the west. This wobble has allowed mankind to plot the place of midwinter's night for over ten thousand years. It takes a full 25,780 years for midwinter's night to go completely around the stars. And Princess, that is precisely why Santa Claus is coming tonight. Thirteen thousand years ago, 7:15 pm on midwinter's night would have come with the stars in the constellation of the Virgin, whom Virginia O'Hanlon is named after. And we would have to celebrate the coming of Santa Claus on midsummer's day. Can you imagine Santa Claus coming on Christmas Eve on a surf board? Well, its still happening today, because children in Australia celebrate Christmas in the middle of summertime! Of course, Australians cannot see the North Pole, and they cannot see Santa Claus, because they are on the other side of the world. But they believe in Santa Claus down under, just the same.

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© Copyright 1997, SU International, all rights reserved.
Edited November 14, 1997