Reality Straight Up!

Thoughts & Observations of a Free Range Astrophysicist

Americas during the winter

Season’s Greetings 2016!

The shortest day of the year has come and gone! Whether you wish your fellows a Merry Christmas, Happy Festivus, or just peace, joy, and happiness in their lives, the changing of the seasons marks a time of both celebration and new commitment. My wish for you is to see that new commitment translate into the real change you want in your life. Season’s Greetings!


At 4:48 Universal Time on December 22, 2015, Earth passed through the point in its orbit where the North Pole was tilted most directly away from the Sun. That day, the Winter Solstice marks the longest night of the year in the Northern Hemisphere. For anyone above a latitude of 66.5° day does not come at all. Since the Northern Hemisphere is tilted away from the Sun, even during the day the indirect sunlight often brings little warmth.

From ancient times to modern, all agree on one thing. The Solstice is a time for both celebration and renewal!

Winter solstice celebrations

From ancient times to modern, we have celebrated the Winter Solstice as a time of rebirth and commitment. The days grow longer. Spring will come again!

Since antiquity, Northern cultures have celebrated the changing of the seasons. Even though the coldest of winter is yet to come (the temperature of the planet lags behind the amount of solar heating), the days will begin getting longer. The Sun will not vanish. Spring will come again!

Christianity is no exception. As Christianity became the state religion of Rome under Emperor Constantine, long-standing Pagan celebrations were overlaid with new meanings. The traditions of that early holiday – gift giving, feasting, greenery, burning of the Yule log – have become the symbols of modern Christmas.

There is one thing upon which all of these traditions agree. The Winter Solstice is a time of birth. It is a time of renewal. It is a time of new commitment. This, too, is carried forward into our modern traditions. What we today call New Years resolutions are thought to date back at least 4,000 years to the time of the Babylonians.

It somehow seems likely that they were as readily broken then as they are today!

As a coach, it is rewarding to see clients turn that commitment into real change.

This season takes on special significance to coaches as well. Coaching is all about helping clients move from where they are now to where they want to be. A coach helps clients find the tools, awareness and support that they need to make good on those promises and intentions. As is true of all in the profession, it is my great pleasure to see that growth.

So to all, I wish you Season’s Greetings, Merry Christmas, a Very Super Solstice and a happy and rewarding New Year!

Season’s Greetings 2016!  © Dr. Jeff Hester
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Reality Straight Up!

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    This article originally appeared in my Astronomy Magazine column, For Your Consideration.

    Read Article

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    This article originally appeared in my Astronomy Magazine column, For Your Consideration.

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    This article originally appeared in my Astronomy Magazine column, For Your Consideration.

    Read Article

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    Read Article

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    This article originally appeared in my Astronomy Magazine column, For Your Consideration.

    Read Article

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    Read Article

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    This article originally appeared in my Astronomy Magazine column, For Your Consideration.

    Read Article

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Recent Article Mobile

  • Cassandra Smiling  Science, politics and a march in the rainPosted in For Your Consideration
  • EPA Rehash  A suddenly partisan NASA faces its futurePosted in Thoughts
  • The Hermeneutics of  Bunk  Alan Sokal and postmodernism’s black eyePosted in For Your Consideration
  • A Dunning-Kruger Universe  Everyone, it seems, has a “theory”Posted in For Your Consideration
  • Our Need to Know  We crave certainty, even when it is only an illusionPosted in CoachingThoughts
  • A Saguaro’s universe  Building a cactus starts with the Big BangPosted in For Your Consideration
  • Oklahoma Skies  To all the amateurs out there, thanks!Posted in For Your Consideration
  • Fight-or-Flight  How our Pleistocene brains (mis)handle modern threatsPosted in Coaching
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  • The Quandry of Unpredictability  Chaos, climate and an unpredictable futurePosted in For Your Consideration
  • Why I March for SciencePosted in Thoughts
  • Waiting for Skynet  The benefits of being a machinePosted in For Your Consideration
  • On a cold day in April, 2017 scientists gathered in Washington DC and cities around the world for the March for Science. Their message was a single powerful idea. Truth is not a political expediency. Reality cannot be ignored. In the year that has followed the vital importance of that message has only grown.

    This article originally appeared in my Astronomy Magazine column, For Your Consideration.

  • When I look at NASA’s new Administrator, Jim Bridenstine, it is his fellow Oklahoman Scott Pruitt’s EPA that jumps to mind. As politically uncomfortable science is pushed aside, NASA’s history of nonpartisanship appears headed for an abrupt end. Will a strongly partisan NASA have a target on its back?

  • Some years ago, NYU physicist Alan Sokal wondered whether anti-science postmodernists could recognize politically-correct-sounding nonsense even if he rubbed their noses in it. The unwitting subjects of the Sokal Hoax jumped at the bait.

    This article originally appeared in my Astronomy Magazine column, For Your Consideration.

  • Some people are sure they know more than the experts, but it can take a lot of knowledge to realize just how wrong an idea is.

    This article originally appeared in my Astronomy Magazine column, For Your Consideration.

  • The human brain craves the sensation of knowing like a drug addict craves the next fix. If real knowledge is uncomfortable or not at hand, we are quite content to just make something up, then convince ourselves it’s real. In a world where knowledge matters, that’s dangerous.

  • The iconic saguaro cactus gives the desert an otherwordly beauty. That beauty does not exist in isolation. It embodies the fascinating and awe-inspiring processes that have shaped the universe, going all the way back to the Big Bang itself.

    This article originally appeared in my Astronomy Magazine column, For Your Consideration.

  • Looking at room full of amateur astronomers, gathered for the Okie-Tex Star Party under the spectacularly dark skies of the Oklahoma Panhandle, I am reminded of my own roots and those who helped me discover the universe.

    This article originally appeared in my Astronomy Magazine column, For Your Consideration.

  • A strong fight-or-flight reaction served our evolutionary ancestors well. If the leopard catches you, that’s it! But today a visceral response to a not-so-mortal threat seldom improves things. If you want to get a handle on those intense, counterproductive bouts of emotion, start by understanding where fight-or-flight came from in the first place.

  • Alone, 100 feet underwater, with a shark in its element, I am overwhelmed by a mixture of awe, beauty, joy, and intellectual wonder at the world that brings us together. In that moment, I experience just what science is all about.

    This article originally appeared in my Astronomy Magazine column, For Your Consideration.

  • Chaos is a sticky wicket for science. There are things a correct theory like climate change cannot predict, but there are a lot of things that it can. It’s important to understand which is which.

    This article originally appeared in my Astronomy Magazine column, For Your Consideration.

  • On Earth Day, April 22, 2017, people around the nation will March for Science. It seems strange to need to march in support of the idea that pronouncements from politicians cannot change the nature of reality, or that evidence matters when making decisions. But such are the peculiar times in which we live.

  • For biological organisms, interstellar travel is hopelessly difficult, and probably pointless. For sentient machines, however, home is the environment you were built for.

    This article originally appeared in my Astronomy Magazine column, For Your Consideration.

Over his 30 year career as an internationally known astrophysicist, Dr. Jeff Hester was a key member of the team that repaired the Hubble Space Telescope. With one foot always on the frontiers of knowledge, he has been mentor, coach, team leader, award-winning teacher, administrator and speaker, to name a few of the hats he has worn. His Hubble image, the Pillars of Creation, was chosen by Time Magazine as among the 100 most influential photographs in history.
©Dr. Jeff Hester LLC, 5301 S. Superstition Mountain Dr., Suite 104 #171, Gold Canyon, AZ 85118