ASP2020: A Virtual Conference
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Living with the Stars on Day of the Dead
Equinoxes and solstices are familiar astronomical markers of the seasons, but we rarely hear about the cross-quarter days, the four half-way points in between. In the Northern Hemisphere, the cross-quarter day between the September equinox and the December solstice signals the time of harvest, Halloween, and Day of the Dead festivities. Within the tropics, the nadir passage of the Sun at the latitude of the oldest Maya cities—when our star is directly underneath at midnight—also marks the awakening of the ancestors for Day of the Dead. In the Yucatan, Mexico, special foods are cooked underground for "janal pixan" the Maya festival to feed the souls of the dearly departed. In Guatemala, the tradition of flying kites in early November ushers in Day of the Dead, with messages for the ancestors written in the tails of the kites. Through photo galleries, a video, and personal experiences, the session will engage participants in a guided discussion as we explore together the meaning of this festive holiday from astronomical and cultural perspectives.
Conference Strand: Diversity, Equity, Inclusion & Social Justice