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Science and the Christmas Star

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“One of the selling points to purchasing the full dome projection equipment you see in the center of the room there is that students would be able to create their own planetarium shows,” said Friends of the David M. Brown Arlington Planetarium President Alice Monet on Friday Dec 13. “What you’re about to see is a show that the Friends of the Planetarium created after taking a set of trainings at Spitz. It’s going to address potential explanations for the appearance of the Christmas Star.”

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On Dec. 13 and 14, the Friends of the David M. Brown Arlington Planetarium hosted their December weekend titled “Science and the Christmas Star.” The programming consisted of a show created in house by the Friends’ focusing on the phenomenon of the star which according to biblical texts led the three Wise Men to the baby Jesus Christ in the manger.

“An astronomer will always look to the natural world, but where will you look for the Christmas Star?” one of the narrators asked ending the program which looked at multiple explanations for how and why the Christmas Star could have occurred to witnesses at the time. Potential explanations were that the Christmas Star could have been the result of a Planetary Conjunction, Comets, a Supernova, or what is more believed in nonscientific circles, a Miracle.

“Regarding the idea for creating a show about the mystery of the Christmas Star, this question has been a mainstay of Planetariums for years during the Christmas Season,” Mrs. Monet said when asked about how she and others arrived at the idea for the topic. “It was nothing original and with my background being in comets, the content was something I was very already familiar with.”

Following the show, the Friends gave a short quiz to the audience about potential explanations for the phenomenon of the Christmas Star discussed above, and then a raffle was held and door prizes were given away.

“If you have thoughts about potential shows and content, please let us know,” Mrs. Monet said referring to the fact that as with the Christmas Star program, more specific shows and content could be created by the Friends. In the future the Friends hope to collaborate with the Arlington Publics Schools (APS) to create shows tailored specifically to enhance its science curriculum.

On both Friday and Saturday, the Science of the Christmas Star was was followed up a showing of Tis the Season, presented by APS.

The Friends will host special events at the David M. Brown Arlington Planetarium one weekend every month until the end of the school year. For more information, visit their website. The theme of January’s weekend will be News from the Kepler Mission.

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