December 21st brings the Winter Solstice and the Christmas Star, which has not been seen in nearly 800 years
The “Christmas Star”, also know as “Star of Bethlehem” and the “great conjunction” is when Jupiter and Saturn align at .1º apart. This is the closest alignment for these two planets in 800 years. Together they will create a beautiful light in the southwest horizon during the hour after sunset. Saturn and Jupiter will not appear this close again until the year 2080!
The Winter Solstice is known as the shortest day of the year and has the least amount of sunlight and longest hours of darkness during the year. Thankfully we have the “Christmas Star” to bring us a little additional light!
From this day forward our hours of daylight will grow until the Summer Solstice.
We do still have some months of snow and cold ahead of us and so do our feathered friends. Winters can make it difficult for birds to find food so let’s help them out while we keep our young ones busy!
Fruits, dried or fresh, are great to feed birds. Slice up some apples, oranges (you could even just use the peels), raisins, berries and red grapes. Grab some yarn and a plastic needle and let your children string the fruit onto the yarn with their plastic needle. These are finished just that quick.
You can also save seeds from pumpkins, squash and melons or the rind from melons or fruits to feed to the birds as long as it hasn’t molded or fermented. Throw it in the freezer and put out little bits at a time so it doesn’t go bad or you may end up feeding and attracting other critters.
Use either yarn or pipe cleaners and let your kids put cheerios on them. With the pipe cleaners, kids can shape it any way they want! Loop them and make a chain.
Toilet paper roll bird feeders are fun too. Take an empty tube and poke two holes at the top. Next, let the kids spread peanut butter on it and dip into birdseed. Run some yard through the two holes and viola!
Frozen bird feeder/sun catchers. Grab some seeds, fruits and nuts and let your kids sprinkle them on a deep dish plate or even a bowl. Use some ribbon or yarn and place it hanging over the dish where you like it the hanger to be. Add water and freeze. When it’s frozen, pop it out of the dish and hang it outside.
Take a little walk though your yard with your kids and let them hang their feeders. Try to encourage putting it near a window so your child can see the “fruits of their labor” when birds stop by for a bite to eat.
If the skies are clear, don’t forget to take advantage of the beautiful, even though short, view of Saturn and Jupiter working together to create a beautiful light in the southwest horizon just after sunset on December 21st.
Happy Winter Solstice from Rainbow Play Systems®