Winter Solstice Celebrated at Solar Calendar


Alan Gould of the Lawrence Hall of Science explains the solar orbit at winter solstice with a cardboard model

The sun hit its southernmost setting point, ending the shortest day of the year, this evening at 4:50, as a couple of dozen aficionados observed from the Cesar Chavez Memorial Solar Calendar atop a west side hilltop in the park.  Lawrence Hall of Science staffer Alan Gould gave a brief explanation of the dynamics and mechanics involved in the solstice.  Solar Calendar creator and curator Santiago Casal was present.  Also present was Rabbi David Cooper, who has led other solar calendar celebrations at this site.  The weather was most cooperative, with temperatures cool but not chilly, the absence of wind, and just enough clouds in the western sky to dress up the sunset.  

Here’s a pretty thorough scientific explanation of the solstice in the Washington Post.  

Cesar Chavez Memorial Solar Calendar creator and curator Santiago Casal (left) and Rabbi David Cooper admire the sunset
The sun setting at the southernmost point of its annual precession. From now on it will set at more northerly points until the summer solstice, when it retreats again.
Part of the solstice celebrant gathering. Unlike pagan rituals of yore, this one featured neither libations nor sacrifices.
Recent visitor Veronica stands in center of extended panoramic image taken from this spot. Gould, Casal, and Cooper and an unidentified participant hold up parts of the scroll.

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