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Above the Oregon, Washington Coast: Halloween is in the Stars as Well

Published 10/29/2019 at 5:43 PM PDT
By Oregon Coast Beach Connection staff

Above the Oregon, Washington Coast: Halloween is in the Stars as Well

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(Portland, Oregon) – There’s more to Halloween than just spooks and candy: it’s an astronomical event as well. While those on the Oregon coast and Washington coast will primarily be dealing with a clear but a chilly day and night (as well as in Portland, Seattle, Vancouver, Salem, etc), it may be well worth looking up to the sky in between handfuls of candy. After dark, there’s fun stuff to catch in the skies, but the daylight hours also represent an interesting astronomical mark – besides the fact it’s unusual to have a Halloween that’s sunny.

The origin of Halloween comes into play when it comes to the universe around us, according to OMSI’s Jim Todd. Halloween – short for All Hallow’s Eve – had its beginnings as a sacred festival with the ancient Celts and their religious figures the Druids in the British Isles. It was called Sahmhain then.

The holiday now famous as another excuse for crazy bar behaviors among adults is a cross-quarter day, which is why the Druids utilized it.

“A cross-quarter day is a day midway between an equinox and a solstice,” Todd said. “Traditionally, Halloween occurs on October 31 which is approximately midway point between the autumn equinox and winter solstice. The October 31 date for Halloween has been fixed by tradition. The true cross-quarter day falls on November 7, representing a discrepancy of about one week. According to the ancient Celts, a cross-quarter day marks the beginning , not the middle, of a season.”

Todd said there are eight major subdivisions of holidays every year. These include the equinoxes of March and September, the June and December solstices, and the intervening four cross-quarter days. These cross-quarter days have acquired their own sometimes goofy holidays, including Halloween. Others are Groundhog Day on February 2, May Day on May 1 and Lammas on August 1.

“Halloween is the spookiest of the cross quarter days, possibly because it comes at a time of year when the days are growing shorter,” Todd said. “On Halloween, it’s said that the spirits of the dead wander from sunset until midnight. After midnight on November 1, which we now call All Saints’ Day, the ghosts are said to go back to rest.”

Looking up at night, the Orionid meteor showers are still going, but quickly slowing down. You can, however, still see a few shooting stars here or there, and the Washington and Oregon coast and its southern coast at night are good places because of the darkness of most areas. The showers go until November 7, and hitting dark high spots like Neahkahnie Mountain near Manzanita, Anderson’s Viewpoint near Oceanside or Cape Foulweather near Depoe Bay will be awe-inspiring. Oregon Coast Hotels for this event - Where to eat - Map - Virtual Tour






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