SJAA Ephemeris December 2003 | SJAA Home | Contents | Previous | Next

'Twas the night before solstice

Jane Houston Jones


Inspired by the poem A Visit From St. Nicholas, written by Major Henry Livingston, Jr.

Twas the week before Solstice, when all through the city,
Not a planet was shining, now isn't that a pity.
The telescope was stored in the garage with despair,
In hopes that the weather would soon turn to fair.

The astronomers were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of nebulae danced in their heads.
And Mojo with his laptop and I with my starmap,
Had just settled down for a cloudy night nap.

When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew with a flash,
Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.

The moon shone brightly, no clouds hid the glow,
The full moonlit lustre to objects below.
When what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But Pleiades, Orion, and Ursa Major, the bear.

With our trusty old telescope, the setup was quick,
I knew in a moment we had objects to pick.
More rapid than eagles, the targets they came,
We aimed and we pointed and called them by name.

"Now, Procyon, now Pollux, now Castor and Capella!
On Aldebaran, on Rigel, on Sirius, and Betelgeuse, the red fella :-)
To the top and around the winter circle of stars,
Now a quick look at Saturn, Jupiter, Venus and Mars.

As fireflies that before the dawns morning light,
Brilliantly flicker and soon are a memory bright,
A new wonder would paint the dark sky to pale blue,
The sunrise was nearing and morning twilight was too.

And then in a twinkling, I heard on the roof,
The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.
As I stepped from the telescope and was turning around,
Down the chimney the stranger came with a bound.

He looked like an astronomer, bundled from head to his foot,
Like a stargazer his clothes were tarnished with ashes and soot.
A bundle of toys he had flung on his back,
Looked just like our telescope accessory pack.

His eyes - how they twinkled! his dimples how merry!
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry
He looked like we do after a cold winter starshow
Freezing but happy from the Milky Way glow

The stump of a flashlight held tight in his teeth
Its soft red glow encircled his head like a wreath
We asked him if he'd ever looked closely at Mars
"I'm working at night, I have no time for the stars".

He stepped up to the eyepiece, a right jolly old elf,
And I smiled as he gasped, in spite of myself.
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head,
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread.

He spoke not a word, but took in view after view,
Then he spoke with a sigh he had more work to do.
And laying his finger aside of his nose,
And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose.

He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.
But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight,
Happy stargazing to all and to all a dark night.

My apologies to Major Henry Livingston Jr. 1748 - 1828, author of 'Twas the Night before Christmas or Account of a Visit from St. Nicholas. Previously believed to be the written by Clement Clarke Moore.


Previous | Contents | Next