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Our Annual Holiday Greetings, in Verse

by Geoff Chester, USNO Public Affairs | 20 December 2022

by Geoff Chester, USNO Public Affairs | 20 December 2022

NGC2244, the Rosette Nebula
NGCs 2237, 2238, 2239, 2244, and 2246, the "Rosette Nebula" complex in Monoceros
Imaged 2021 March 7 from Turner Mountain, Virginia with an Explore Scientific AR102 10.2-cm (4-inch) f/6.5 refractor
‘Tis the Night Before Christmas and up in the dome
We eagerly wait for the nightfall to come.
The slit has been opened, the lens cap’s been stowed
The night sky awaits like a wide-open road.

The solstice will pass on the 21st day,
The Sun’s southernmost point on his orbital way.
The year’s longest nights are upon us right now
But they start to get longer when the Yule log’s aglow.

The Moon is now absent from evening’s crisp skies
Her crescent returns as Christmas draws nigh.
She waxes to gibbous as the present year ends
She’ll brighten the eve as the new year begins.

Bright Venus is peeking in eve’s twilight glow
She’ll soon grace our skies in the west with her show.
Fleet Mercury dances with Venus next week
The pair will be playing cosmic hide-and-seek.

Saturn now shines in eve twilight’s last glow,
With much brighter Jupiter behind him in tow.
The ringed planet sets by the mid evening time
But Old Jove keeps on beaming until midnight draws nigh.

Red Mars lumbers west on his retrograde way
Passing north of Aldebaran, The Bull’s fiery eye.
He’ll be our companion well into next year,
But he’ll fade and autumn he will disappear.

The Great Winter Circle shines high in the night
With bright stars a-twinkling with all of their might.
Their colors add contrast to enhance the dark sky
While far down below they’re a treat for the eye.

Orion is now rising high up in the east,
Shield raised in defiance of Taurus the beast.
The Great Winter Circle surrounds his bold shape, 
While faithful dog Canis leaps up in his wake.

Late night brings Sirius, the Dog Star on high,
By New Year’s he transits as midnight draws nigh.
The brightest of stars warm the long winter’s night,
His colorful cohorts all add to the sight.

Ten of the brightest of stars in the sky, 
Light these long nights of winter as Old Sol plays shy.
With the solstice now past us we’ll all soon be glad,
For the days getting longer than the ones we’ve just had.

So Peace to your families, neighbors, and friends,
We wish you the best that the holiday sends.
The stars mark the comings and goings of time,
So stop to enjoy them, and so ends my rhyme.

Happy Holidays from all of us at the U.S. Naval Observatory!

And my most sincere apologies to Clement Clark Moore.


Commander, Naval Meteorology and Oceanography Command | 1100 Balch Blvd. | Stennis Space Center, Mississippi 39529

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