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Clarion University will host the annual holiday program, “Season of Light,” Dec. 7 and 14 in Donald Peirce Planetarium. The show explores the sun’s movement in the sky during the winter months and its influence on many holiday traditions.

“The sun being at its lowest point in the sky makes light a theme, both for the season and the traditions,” said Gary Purinton, Clarion University astronomy instructor and manager of the  show.

As the show examines, the stellar distinctiveness of winter has produced a variety of seasonal customs from different cultures, ranging from well known Christian and Jewish traditions to Celtic, Norse, Roman, Mexican and other less publicized rituals.

“Tree lights, the yule log, the Menorah, the tradition of luminaries … the show looks at how all of these developed,” Purinton said.

“This kind of show is very difficult to convey any place other than a planetarium. It’s the only place you can show the astronomical scope in three dimensions,” he said.

Because of the show’s popularity, the planetarium will hold six showings of “Season of Light” over two days. The 40-minute shows will begin at 6 p.m., 7 p.m. and 8 p.m. Dec. 7 and 14. Doors for the first showing each night will open at 5:30 p.m. Admission is free and the event is open to the public.

“We’ve had to expand the event every year for attendance,” Purinton said. “Some people come back every year to see it.”

The Donald Peirce Planetarium is on the second floor of Clarion University’s Grunenwald Center for Science and Technology. Parking is available in lot 12, behind Marwick-Boyd Fine Arts Center, and lot 11, across the street from Tippin Gymnasium. The best way to access the planetarium is through the main entrance of the science and technology center on Greenville Avenue.

“Season of Light” is produced by Loch Ness Productions.

Clarion University is the high-achieving, nationally recognized, comprehensive university that delivers a personal and challenging academic experience.

11/29/2012 11:06 AM

‘Season of Light’ returns to planetarium