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Pass the Astronomy, Please

Happy Day Before Thanksgiving!

I’m in a food mood, folks.  I’m looking forward to Thanksgiving this year.  Maybe because I don’t have to do all the cooking myself this time!  Or maybe because the Mythbusters took on some classic food myths – including that turkey tale of tryptophan.  But whatever it is…let’s take a moment to explore some ways to bring a little astronomical fun to the holiday.

Of course, the first thing that comes to mind is just get outside!  After the massive meal and the inevitable 4 hours on the couch to recover, get up and head outdoors.  It will be dark by then, and maybe you’ll be treated to some lovely sights!  As early as 6pm, the Moon will be climbing high towards the south, being just a bit past first quarter at that point.  This will be a great time to get out the binoculars or a telescope and sweep along the terminator – the line of shadow that separates day and night on the Moon (or any other celestial body) – and explore the wonders of the lunar surface.  The deep shadows to be found at the terminator make for an excellent view of mountains, craters, and other magnificent features.

The Moon’s terminator.  Note the strong detail visible thanks to the deep shadows.  Courtesy stargazing.net

By 9:30pm, Jupiter will be a blazing beacon of white light in the eastern sky.  It will be tantalizingly close to the red right eye of Taurus the Bull, Aldebaran.  The color contrast should be quite lovely.  And here again, a telescope or binoculars will provide some extra excitement, showing you several Jovian moons and maybe a couple of cloud bands on the massive planet.

Jupiter and its 4 largest moons as seen through a small telescope.  Courtesy Universe Today.

But perhaps you’re just not going to be able to get up off that couch.  Maybe we’d better add some astronomical fun to the meal itself, or there’s no chance you’ll get anything spacey in at all.

One easy way to stellar up any meal is with a little starfruit!  When you slice this unique little fruit correctly, the pieces come out star-shaped.  Scatter them around as garnish on almost any dish – they have a mild, white-grape like flavor which is very pleasant and goes with almost anything.

Star fruit, shown whole and sliced.  Image courtesy www.yummy-ness.tumblr.com

For those who really want to do up the astronomical flair – may I suggest a little pizazz during the pie course?  Big round things always put me in mind of the planets.  Perhaps an apple pie might be topped with a red-food-coloring tinted top crust and become the surface of Mars!  Or the whipped cream on top of the pumpkin or coconut cream pie might be striped to look suspiciously like the clouds of Venus or Saturn.

Gracious, I’ve just given a whole new meaning to “The Face on Mars,” haven’t I?

However you celebrate, be it astronomically or not, have a wonderful and peaceful Thanksgiving.
Carpe noctem!
Kelly

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