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    Happy Holidays To All: 3 Holiday Greetings – Our Solstice, the Great Conjunction, and Music from Our Friends – The Cleveland Orchestra

    By Dr. Arthur Lavin

    In this special post from Real Answers, all of us at Advanced Pediatrics wish everyone safe and Happy Holidays with three special items, one of which is an extraordinary gift from The Cleveland Orchestra, a major thank you to our community and world at the end of a difficult year.

    Before the gift, two items to share from across our Solar System.

    The Day of the Winter Solstice 

    Every year, as the days darken and the nights deepen, we hit a moment when the night is as long as it will be the entire year.   This is the darkest day, and every day after it gets a little lighter.

    This day is the winter solstice.  Solstice comes from a combination of two words- sol (sun) and sistere (stand still), because at this moment, the back-and-forth apparent sway of the sun, from being more present to less present and back, stops for a moment to switch direction, just like a ball tossed high in the sky will rocket up, slow, slow, and then actually stop, before changing direction and plummet back to ground.

    The winter solstice for 2020 happens at about 5AM tomorrow morning, December 21.  That means from 5PM tonight to 5PM tomorrow night, we will have the longest night.   It also means Autumn ends tomorrow at 5AM, and Winter begins.   And it means hope returns, as every day gets lighter!

    The days get darker and lighter because of our planet, not our Sun.

    The Sun moves around the galaxy, dragging all of us around the Milky Way at about 500,000 miles an hour, but since that speed is almost perfectly constant, and we all travel it together (Sun and all planets and their moons) in perfect unison, we cannot sense or feel moving at 500,000 miles an hour.   So from our perspective, the Sun does not move.

    But we do, the Earth moves around the Sun, at about 1,000 miles an hour.   We don’t feel that either, because it is so steady and constant, like an elevator moving at a constant speed, except for the hum and vibration, we don’t sense the motion.   It is the Earth’s tilt that gives us a sense of change.   We tilt at about 23 degrees away from straight vertical, and that means half the year the top half (us) tilts towards the Sun and half the year away.   When we pass the exact change from tilting toward to tilting away, that is the Equinox (twice a year) and at our most tilting away, that is our Winter Solstice, which we enter this evening and hit exactly at 5:02 AM tomorrow morning, December 21, 2020.

    The Great Conjunction

    Of course, Earth is not the only planet rotating in orbit around our star, the Sun.   All the planets do, and we get to watch them, as we whirr around the Sun at 1,000 miles per hour, also spin around the Sun.   As NASA has explained, we are on a merry-go-round watching planets as if they are on a circular race track racing each other as they race about the Sun.

    Now Jupiter races in a smaller orbit than Saturn, and is closer to the Sun, so it goes much faster around the Sun than Saturn.  Which means, every 20 years Jupiter laps Saturn, and when it does so, sitting on Earth it looks like it comes pretty close.   Any pair of moving objects can do this, and when they do, astronomers call it a conjunction.  Not just astronomers, astrologers have observed conjunctions of all sorts for eons too.

    But Jupiter and Saturn are the biggest huge planets near us on Earth, so they shine big and bright in our night sky whenever they appear.  So big and bright you can see them without a telescope and in brightly lit city nights, too.

    The conjunction Jupiter and Saturn is on right now.   It is visible in any part of the world, except one, without clouds, tonight, tomorrow night, and Tuesday night.   This round they come very, very close.    We say the full moon is about 1/2 a degree of arc in the sky.  Usually Jupiter and Saturn come about 2 degrees of arc close every 20 years, or about 10 full moon widths apart.

    But this conjunction of the two planets is one that is super close, and happens about every 400 years.  They come within 1/10 of an arc apart, or as close as 1/5 the width of a full moon!

    The last time this happened someone was ready to see 4 tiny moons around Jupiter and little bulges around Saturn (the rings).  He was the first human to see this during this every 400 year super conjunction of the two planets, and his name, Galileo Galilei!

    This rare event has its own name, the Great Conjunction.  And we will not see it because it will be cloudy.  But if the clouds clear tonight or tomorrow or even Tuesday, look where the sun sets once it sets and it darkens, for about an hour Jupiter and Saturn will glow as closely as they did when humanity dared to look, and to say what they saw, and to ask questions, all to solve problems.

    If the clouds do not clear, be sure to let friends and family know to enjoy this Holiday treat, last shared with Galileo, but wondered at for thousands if not millions of years of humans in wonder.

    And Now for A Very Special Gift from Very Special Friends, The Cleveland Orchestra

    Now we turn from the wonder of the skies, to the wonder of beauty and friendship to make life what it is for all of us, the perfect gift for this troubled holiday season.

    Everyone knows we live in a once in a century time of disaster.  The deadly virus has challenged us to stay alive and to keep all we love alive, making everyone think about how to share our love this Christmas and Hanukkah and all holidays.

    And so our friend, the astounding violinist, the Assistant Concertmaster of The Cleveland Orchestra, Jessica Lee, launched a project and with the support of the Cleveland Clinic, has produced Music Videos, starring the world-class musicians of The Cleveland Orchestra, set in some of our favorite places in Cleveland.

    These are all places that we love to go to, but can’t so much right now.  The Luna Cafe in the Fairmount-Cedar area of the Heights.  The Mitchell’s Ice Cream store and production campus of Ohio City.   The Alley Cat Seafood Restaurant, in the Flats.  And Home of the Orchestra, the magnificent art-deco lobby of Severance Hall of University Circle.

    The pieces are played by small ensembles of The Cleveland Orchestra, featuring many of our friends, including Jessica Lee who put this gift together, the associate concertmaster of the Orchestra Jung Min Amy Lee, the Principal of Percussion Marc Damoulakis, and the Principal Harpist Tina Struble.

    Come hear the master musicians, who got to gather during the Pandemic, to play music as a gift to all of us, expressly to cheer us up and remind us the arts live as we remain safe until the vaccine releases us to gather once more.

    Come hear gorgeous and dramatic string ensembles, an unusual setting of a Mother Goose suite for harp and percussion, and a string ensemble with a beautiful voice.

    Here is the wonderful Holiday Gift note from Ms. Jessica Lee, with the links to the music, stay tuned, we will share more as they produce and issue them. And feel FREE to share with friends and family all over!

    Dear Dr. Lavin,

    I wanted to share with you a project I started this summer called MusicMedicine, partnering the Cleveland Clinic and the Cleveland Orchestra in a video project for frontline workers, caregivers, and the greater Cleveland community.  I put together groups of orchestra musicians and filmed in beloved business locations around the city to be shared with all who need to power of community and connection and music.  Four videos have been released so far and there are three more coming.  I’ve included two links to each video:  the Facebook videos on the Cleveland Orchestra’s Facebook page, as well as to the MusicMedicine YouTube page.  Both pages will be updated each week until January 4 with the new videos.  I hope you can share it with your fellow doctors, nurses, and caregivers to enjoy themselves and to share with their patients, in the hopes that our music can help make this difficult period a little more beautiful.

    Thank YOU and Dr. Hertzer and all of the staff at Advanced Pediatrics for all you have done and continue to do to make our lives healthier, safer, and more joyful.  We are immensely grateful for your steady, wise, and caring presence in our lives, and in particular, I have enjoyed your blog posts which are informative, clear, and reassuring (in that I feel far better informed than I was before I read it).

    Looking forward to seeing you again at the girls’ vaccinations, whenever that may be!

    Warmest wishes,

    Jessica Lee


    Claude Debussy String Quartet, Mvmt 3 at Luna Bakery Cafe




    Georg Telemann Concerto for 4 Violins in G Major at Mitchell’s Ice Cream




    Maurice Ravel Mother Goose Suite – Laideronette, Empress of the Pagodas in the Grand Foyer of Severance Hall




    Samuel Barber Dover Beach at Alley Cat Oyster Bar




    Bottom Lines

    Happy Holidays!  Enjoy the Solstice, the Great Conjunction, and the Gift of Music with so much Love and Cheer.

    To your health,
    Dr. Arthur Lavin


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