The Seasonal Almanac shares nature and astronomical events for December 2000 and January 2001.
1 In 1831, New York City experienced a record cold December with a mean temperature of 22°.
3 FIRST QUARTER MOON, 10:55 p.m. EST; International Day of Disabled Persons; in 1967 the first human heart transplant was performed by Dr. Christian Bernard in Cape Town, South Africa.
4 Pluto at conjunction with the sun and unviewable; Venus pulls closer to Earth than one astronomical unit (average distance between Earth and Sun).
5 Vicksburg, Mississippi hit by tornado which kills 38, injures 270, on this day in 1953; Walt Disney born this day in 1901 (died in 1966).
6 Venus, brilliant planet in the southwest at nightfall, now sets more than three full hours after the sun (see December 27 entry); St. Nicholas's Day.
7 Pearl Harbor Day; earliest sunset (4:35 p.m.) at 40°N latitude.
9 Moon near Jupiter and Saturn tonight; epic poet John Milton born in 1608.
10 Human Rights Day (an official U.N. holiday).
11 FULL MOON, 4:03 a.m. EST; Venus near Neptune.
12 Fiesta of Our Lady of Guadeloupe (Mexico's greatest religious festival).
14 Start of the Halcyon Days (days of supposed peaceful, fair weather — but this refers to the weather now in the Mediterranean, not the U.S.)
15 Bill of Rights Day.
16 Beethoven born in 1770; Boston Tea Party in 1773.
17 LAST QUARTER MOON, 7:41 p.m. EST; sun enters constellation Sagittarius; hero of Latin America, Simon Bolivar, died this day in 1830.
20 Moon forms line with Mars and Spica before dawn.
21 Hanukkah begins at sundown; winter solstice in northern hemisphere (summer solstice in southern hemisphere), 8:37 am. EST-shortest day of the year north of the equator.
22 Ursid meteors shoot out of north sky all night (from country locations, more than a few per hour might be seen).
24 Christmas Eve; Apollo 8 becomes first manned spacecraft to orbit the Moon, 1968.
25 Christmas Day; NEW MOON, 12:22 p.m. EST; partial eclipse of the sun, visible from almost all of North America.
26 Kwanzaa starts; Boxing Day in Canada.
28 End of Halcyon Days (see entry for December 14, above); Woodrow Wilson born this day in 1856.
31 New Year's Eve.
1 New Year's Day.
2 FIRST QUARTER MOON, 5:31 p.m. EST; look for Quadrantid meteors from northeast in hours before dawn (from country locations dozens per hour might be seen); Luna 1 becomes the first spacecraft to escape Earth's gravity, this day in 1959.
4 Earth at perihelion (nearest to sun in space for the year) but north hemisphere countries are now cold because north end of Earth is tilted away from sun at this time of year.
6 Epiphany; Eastern Orthodox Christmas; moon near star Aldebaran tonight, with Jupiter and Saturn not far above. Plough Monday - first Monday after Epiphany.
9 FULL MOON, 3:24 p.m. EST total eclipse of the moon, but only some of partial portion visible from eastern most U.S.
11 Toledo had gusts up to 60 mph and a temperature drop (28 degrees Fahrenheit to 15 degrees Fahrenheit) today in 1918.
13 1888: -65 degrees Fahrenheit near Miles City, Montana.
14 If you have a telescope, watch Venus through it this week soon after sunset (or before sunset) to see when you think its phase is exactly half — it may appear to be so days before the moment it truly is, which is on January 19.
15 Martin Luther King, Jr. Day — this is celebrated on the third Monday in January, which this year falls as early as possible, and on the actual birthday.
16 LAST QUARTER MOON, 7:34 a.m. EST; moon is near Mars tomorrow before dawn.
17 Venus at greatest elongation (maximum angular separation from the sun in our sky); Ben Franklin born, 1706.
18 First sub-zero reading in Washington, D.C. In 48 years (-5' F), this day in 1982.
20 Inauguration Day.
24 NEW MOON, 8:07 a.m. EST; Chinese New Year; Voyager 2 becomes the first (and so far the only) space craft to pass Uranus (1986).
26 Slender crescent moon to upper left of Mercury (and far below Venus) in west-southwest about 45 minutes after sunset.
27 Moon directly below Venus this evening; Apollo 1 astronauts Grissom, White and Chaffee were killed in a launch pad fire this day in 1967.
28 The Space Shuttle Challenger exploded, killing seven astronauts this day in 1986.
31 Blizzard hit the Northeast in 1966, leaving 20" of snow on the ground in Washington, D.C.
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