Archive for the Uncategorized Category

Our autumn almanac 10.12.2010 – 16.12.2010

Posted in Uncategorized on December 10, 2010 by espacelab

This week sees on Dec 13 St Lucy’s Day or the Feast of St. Lucy and is marked by Catholics and Orthodox Christians and also celebrated by members of the Lutheran Church.

Saint Lucy’s Day or the Feast of St. Lucy is marked by Catholics and Orthodox Christians and also celebrated by members of the Lutheran Church.

Celebrations take place in the USA and Europe, especially Scandinavia.

Lucy, whose name means ‘light’, is the patron saint of the blind.

Lucy was born in 283 AD in Syracuse, Sicily, and was killed there in 303 AD during Roman persecution under the Emperor Diocletian.

Most of the other details about Lucy are probably fabrications.
The legend of Lucy

Lucy is said to have been the daughter of a rich nobleman who died when she was young. Her mother was not a Christian and wanted to arrange a marriage between Lucy and a rich Pagan man. Lucy had committed her life to Christ and pledged to remain a virgin. She wished to spend the money intended for her dowry on alms for the poor.

Lucy travelled with her mother to the tomb of Saint Agatha. As they prayed at the tomb, Lucy saw a vision of Saint Agatha and her mother’s longstanding illness was miraculously cured as Lucy had hoped it would be. Lucy’s mother converted to Christianity.

Lucy was then able to spend her money helping the poor, but her intended bridegroom was not pleased and denounced her to the Roman governor as a Christian. (The governor’s name is sometimes given as Paschasius.)

The governor first ordered Lucy to make sacrifices to his idols, but she refused and said she would only sacrifice to Christ through her good works.

Hearing this, the governor sentenced Lucy to forced prostitution as an intensely degrading punishment, but she claimed that her soul would remain pure no matter what was done to her against her will. When the guards came to carry her out, the Holy Spirit made her body heavy and immobile, impossible to lift.

Lucy was put to death after suffering various tortures. She was burned alive and came out miraculously unharmed. According to the somewhat fanciful thirteenth-century retelling found in The Golden Legend, despite being stabbed through the neck with a dagger she continued to prophesy the downfall of the governor, the emperor and his co-regent, all of which came to pass after her death.

In other versions, Lucy’s eyes were torn out and later healed by God, a legend that supports her association with the blind and explains why she is often pictured holding two eyes on a dish.

Dec Thu 16
Ashura (Muslim )

Islamic holy day observed on the 10th of the Islamic month of Muharram. Shi’ite Muslims regard it as a major festival marking the martydom of the Prophet’s grandson, Hussein.

Ashura has been a day of fasting for Sunni Muslims since the days of the early Muslim community. It marks two historical events: the day Nuh (Noah) left the Ark, and the day that Musa (Moses) was saved from the Egyptians by Allah.

Shi’a Muslims in particular use the day to commemorate the martyrdom of Hussein, a grandson of the Prophet, in 680 CE.

In Shi’ite communities this is a solemn day: plays re-enacting the martyrdom are often staged and many take part in mourning rituals.

Every year in London Shi’a Muslims gather for a mourning procession and speeches at Marble Arch. The procession attracts up to 3000 men, women and children from many different ethinic backgrounds.


Our autumn almanac 22.10.2010 – 28.10.2010

Posted in Uncategorized on October 22, 2010 by espacelab

The Orionids meteor showercontinue
The full moon makes it difficult to see the meteor shower.

Hunters Moon on Oct 23
The hunter’s moon—also known as blood moon or sanguine moon—is the first full moon after the harvest moon, which is the full moon nearest the autumnal equinox. The Hunter’s Moon is so named because plenty of moonlight is ideal for hunters shooting migrating birds in Northern Europe.

Our spring almanac 14.05.2010 – 20.05.2010

Posted in Uncategorized on May 14, 2010 by espacelab

One Swallow does not make a summer

One swallow does not make a summer, nor does one day; and so too one day, or a short time, does not make a man blessed and happy. So said the Greek philosopher and scientist Aristotle.

The Barn Swallow migrates from Africa to spend the spring and summer here in southern England. Migration of Barn Swallows between Britain and South Africa was first established on 23 December 1912 when a bird that had been ringed by James Masefield at a nest in Staffordshire, was found in Natal nearly 6000 miles from here. For people living in South Africa the month of May is not a month for looking forward to summer, winter is coming, which is probably good for the national football teams training for the World Cup. In southern Africa, which is in the southern hemisphere of our planet, the seasons are the opposite of the ones we have here. During May, June and July, the northern hemisphere is exposed to more direct sunlight because the hemisphere faces the sun. The same is true of the southern hemisphere in November, December and January.

It is the tilt of the Earth that causes the Sun to be higher in the sky during the summer months which increases the solar flux. However, due to seasonal lag, June, July and August are the hottest months in the northern hemisphere and December, January and February are the hottest months in the southern hemisphere.

Morgaston Woods
Swallows usually appear in April, but this year have only become more noticeable as we move into the middle of May. This year most of the signs of spring have been late, all catching up during this month of May. The appearance of bluebells and daisies for instance.

Canis Major

Canis Major has a deep sky object in Messier 41 (also known as M41 or NGC 2287). It is an open cluster discovered by Giovanni Batista Hodierna before 1654 and was perhaps known to Aristotle about 325 BC.

M41 lies about four degrees almost exactly south of Sirius. It contains about 100 stars including several red giants, the brightest being a spectral type K3 giant near the cluster’s center. A Red Giant is a luminous giant star of low or intermediate mass (roughly 0.5–10 solar masses) in a late phase of stellar evolution. The outer atmosphere is inflated and tenuous, making the radius immense and the surface temperature low, somewhere from 5,000 K and lower. The appearance of the red giant is from yellow orange to red, including the spectral types K and M, but also class S stars and most carbon stars.

At some point in the Sun’s future evolution it will become a Red Giant.

Sirius is the brightest star in the night sky of earth. With a visual apparent magnitude of −1.46, it is almost twice as bright as Canopus, the next brightest star. The name “Sirius” is derived from the Ancient Greek Seirios (“scorcher”).

What is visible to the naked eye as a single star is actually a binary star system, consisting of a white main sequence star of spectral type A1V, termed Sirius A, and a faint white dwarf companion of spectral type DA2, termed Sirius B.

Sirius is also known colloquially as the “Dog Star”, reflecting its prominence in its constellation, Canis Major (English: Big Dog). The heliacal rising of Sirius marked the flooding of the Nile in Ancient Egypt and the “Dog Days” of summer for the Ancient Greeks, while to the Polynesians it marked winter and was an important star for navigation around the Pacific Ocean.

Navigation by the stars

Sirius, being the brightest star, is one of the so called navigational stars used in celestial navigation. Celestial navigation, also known as astronavigation, is a position fixing technique that has steadily evolved over several thousand years to help sailors cross featureless oceans without having to rely on estimated calculations, or dead reckoning, to enable them to know their position on the ocean. Celestial navigation uses “sights,” or angular measurements taken between a visible celestial body (the sun, the moon, a planet or a star) and the visible horizon.

The angle measured between the sun and the visible horizon is most commonly used. Skilled navigators can additionally use the moon, a planet or one of 57 navigational stars whose coordinates are tabulated in the Nautical Almanac and Air Almanacs. Seafarers have used these stars through the ages, so the list of 57 stars that navigators use comes to us through the practice of their skills over thousands of years.

Nautical Almanac

A nautical almanac is a publication describing the positions of a selection of celestial bodies for the purpose of enabling navigators to use celestial navigation to determine the position of their ship while at sea. The Almanac specifies for each whole hour of the year the position on the Earth’s surface (in declination and Greenwich hour angle) at which the sun, moon, planets and first point of Aries is directly overhead. The positions of 57 selected stars are specified relative to the first point of Aries.

Prior to the introduction of electronic means of navigation the only way to fix an aircraft’s position at night was by taking star sights using a sextant in the same manner as that used by marine navigators on board ships.

To do this requires a 360-degree view of the horizon and the astrodome was devised to allow an uninterrupted view of the sky from horizon to horizon. Hence the astrodome is a hemispherical transparent dome fitted in the cabin roof of an aircraft for the purpose of allowing the use of a sextant during astro-navigation.

The Jewish festival of Shavuot is also known as the festival or feast of ‘Weeks’. There is no set date for the two-day festival, but it takes place seven weeks (fifty days) after the first day of the spring festival of Passover which falls this year on May 19. This also marks the start of the wheat harvest and the end of the barley harvest.

High places
Shavuot marks the time that the Jews received the Torah on Mount Sinai. It is considered a highly important historical event. The tablets of stone inscribed with the 10 Commandments were, according to traditional teachings of Judaism in the Talmud, made of blue sapphire stone as a symbolic reminder of the sky, the heavens, and ultimately of God’s throne.

The Christian festival of Pentecost also comes from Shavuot. St Catherine’s Monastery at the foot of Mt. Sinai is one of the oldest surviving Christian communities.

Prayers are said on Shavuot (especially at dawn) to thank God for the five books of Moses (collectively known as the Torah) and for his law. Some people also spend the first night of Shavuot studying the Torah. Synagogues are decorated with flowers and plants on this joyous occasion to remember the flowers of Mount Sinai. Dairy products are also eaten during Shavuot. There are many interpretations about why this custom is observed. It is believed that once the rules about the preparation of meat were revealed in the Torah, the people of Sinai were reluctant to eat meat until they fully understood the rules.

In the last post we included Ascension Day that marks the last earthly appearance of Christ after his resurrection celebrated 40 days after Easter. The Catholic Church in England and Wales celebrates it on the following Sunday 16 May instead.

Final ascent
On May 14, 2010 the Space Shuttle Atlantis lifted off into space for its final voyage during which it will visit the International Space Station.

Two spacewalking astronauts began a tricky battery swap on the space station’s solar arrays Wednesday, a job that is expected to take two full spacewalks to complete.

Atlantis mission specialists Michael Good and Stephen Bowen got ahead of schedule, successfully installing more than half of the new batteries. In addition, they were able to fix a snagged cable that was plaguing a sensor camera on shuttle Atlantis and tighten the connection between a stuck antenna and its stand.

South View 20.05.2010

Our spring almanac 09.04.2010 – 15.04.2010

Posted in Uncategorized on April 9, 2010 by espacelab

Cherry blossom – at last!

Cherry blossom opposite Fairfields School Basingstoke 09.04.2010

Yom Hashoah
The Jewish Holocaust Memorial Day takes place on 11.04.2010. The date is chosen as the closest date (in the Jewish calendar) to the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. The name comes from the Hebrew word ‘shoah’, which means ‘whirlwind’. Yom Hashoah ceremonies include the lighting of candles for Holocaust victims, and listening to the stories of survivors. Religious ceremonies include prayers such as Kaddish for the dead and the El Maleh Rahamim, a memorial prayer.

In a place called Yad Vashem, near Jerusalem in Israel, you will find the Hall of Names containing Pages of Testimony commemorating the six millions of Jews who perished in the Holocaust. The origin of the name is from a Biblical verse: “And to them will I give in my house and within my walls a memorial and a name (Yad Vashem) that shall not be cut off.”

The Sikh New Year Festival 13.04.2010
Vaisakhi, also spelled Baisakhi, is one of the most important dates in the Sikh calendar. It is the Sikh New Year festival and is celebrated on April 13 or 14. It also commemorates 1699, the year Sikhism was born as a collective faith.

The Dasam Granth (formally dasvēṁ pātśāh kī granth or The Book of the Tenth Master) is an eighteenth-century collection of poems by Gobind Singh, the tenth guru. It was he who, on Vaisakhi in 1699, laid down the Foundation of the Khalsa.

Birthday of Guru Nanak (Nanakshahi calendar)
The founder of the Sikh religion was born on 14 April 1469. This festival is also currently celebrated according to the Lunar Calendar, but this may change. Hola Mohalla, according to the Nanakshahi Calendar, also takes place on this day. Hola Mohalla is currently celebrated according to the Lunar Calendar, but this may change.


In Greek mythology, Andromeda was the daughter of Cepheus and Cassiopeia, king and queen of the kingdom Ethiopia. Our previous spring almanac has the constellation Cassiopeia as our theme. The Greek myth that connects Perseus, Pegasus, the Gorgon Medusa, Cassiopeia and Andromeda comes to a dramatic moment when, as divine punishment for her mother’s bragging, Andromeda was chained to a rock as a sacrifice to a sea monster. She was saved from death by Perseus.

After her death, Andromeda was placed by Athena amongst the constellations in the northern sky, near Perseus and Cassiopeia.

Andromeda was the Constellation Logo of Overton School.

One of Overton School’s student came up with a brilliant new constellation image, a tractor! Just right for farming the countryside around this part of Basingstoke and Deane,

Stars and galaxies
Alpheratz is the brightest star in this constellation.

Alpheratz is also known as Sirrah, both names derive from the Arabic name, سرة الفرس surrat al-faras “the navel of the horse”. (سرة alone is surra.) The word horse reflects the star’s historical placement in Pegasus. Another term for this star used by medieval astronomers writing in Arabic was راس المراة المسلسلة rās al-mar’a al-musalsala “the head of the woman in chains”, the chained woman here being Andromeda. In the Hindu lunar zodiac, this star, together with the other stars in the Great Square of Pegasus (α, β, and γ Pegasi), makes up the nakshatras of Pūrva Bhādrapadā and Uttara Bhādrapadā. The term Nakshatra (Devanagari: नक्षत्र, Sanskrit: nakshatra, ‘star’, from Sanskrit: naksha, ‘approach’, and Sanskrit: tra, ‘guard’) or lunar mansion is one of the 27 divisions of the sky, identified by the prominent stars in them, used in Jyotisha, which is the Hindu system of astrology.

Beta Andromedae is a red giant star in the constellation of Andromeda. It has the traditional name Mirach (also spelled Merach, Mirac, Mirak). It is approximately 200 light years away. Mirach is a corruption of the Arabic ميزر mīzar “girdle” and refers to Mirach’s position at the left hip of the princess Andromeda.

A light-year
A light-year, also light year or lightyear, (symbol: ly) is a unit of length, equal to just under 10 trillion kilometres (i.e. 1016 metres). As defined by the International Astronomical Union (IAU), a light-year is the distance that light travels in a vacuum in one year. The light-year is often used to measure distances to stars and other distances on a galactic scale.

Gamma Andromedae is the third brightest star in the constellation of Andromeda. It is also known by the traditional name Almach (also spelt as Almaach, Almaack, Almak, Almaak, or Alamak), from the Arabic العناق الأرض al-‘anāq al-’arđ̧ “the caracal” (desert lynx). It was known as 天大將軍一 (the First Star of the Great General of the Heaven) in Chinese.

In 1778, Johann Tobias Mayer discovered that γ Andromedae was a double star. When examined in a small telescope, it appears to be a bright, golden yellow star (γ1 Andromedae) next to a dimmer, indigo blue star (γ2 Andromedae), separated by approximately 10 arcseconds. It is considered by stargazers to be a beautiful double star with a striking contrast of color. It was later discovered that γ2 Andromedae is itself a triple star system. What appears as a single star to the naked eye is thus a quadruple star system, approximately 350 light-years from the Earth.

Andromeda the Galaxy

The Andromeda Galaxy as seen by NASA’s Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer.

The Andromeda Galaxy is a spiral galaxy approximately 2,500,000 light-years away in the constellation Andromeda. It is also known as Messier 31, M31, or NGC 224, and is often referred to as the Great Andromeda Nebula in older texts. Andromeda is the nearest spiral galaxy to our own, the Milky Way. As it is visible as a faint smudge on a moonless night, it is one of the farthest objects visible to the naked eye, and can be seen even from urban areas with binoculars. It gets its name from the area of the sky in which it appears, the Andromeda constellation. Andromeda is the largest galaxy of the Local Group, which consists of the Andromeda Galaxy, the Milky Way Galaxy, the Triangulum Galaxy, and about 30 other smaller galaxies. Although the largest, Andromeda may not be the most massive, as recent findings suggest that the Milky Way contains more dark matter and may be the most massive in the grouping. The 2006 observations by the Spitzer Space Telescope revealed that M31 contains one trillion stars, more than the number of stars in our own galaxy, which is estimated to be about 200-400 billion.

A 2009 study concluded that Andromeda and the Milky Way are about equal in mass. Although it appears more than six times as wide as the full Moon when photographed through a larger telescope, only the brighter central region is visible with the naked eye.

Using the orbiting Chandra X-ray telescope, astronomers have imaged the center of our near-twin island universe, finding evidence for an object so bizarre it would have impressed many 1960s science fiction writers (and readers). Like the Milky Way, Andromeda’s galactic center appears to harbor an X-ray source characteristic of a black hole of a million or more solar masses. Seen above, the false-color X-ray picture shows a number of X-ray sources, likely X-ray binary stars, within Andromeda’s central region as yellowish dots. The blue source located right at the galaxy’s center is the position of the suspected massive black hole.

According to the general theory of relativity, a black hole is a region of space from which nothing, including light, can escape. It is the result of the deformation of spacetime caused by a very compact mass. Around a black hole there is an undetectable surface which marks the point of no return, called an event horizon. It is called “black” because it absorbs all the light that hits it, reflecting nothing.

Andromeda will collide with the Milky Way
The Andromeda Galaxy is approaching the Sun at about 100 to 140 kilometres per second so the Andromeda Galaxy and the Milky Way are thus expected to collide in perhaps 2.5 billion years. A likely outcome of the collision is that the galaxies will merge to form a giant elliptical galaxy. Such events are frequent among the galaxies in galaxy groups.

Beautiful coloured clouds sometimes have a lining of glass.

Volcanic ash fills the skies
On 15.04.2010. The Guardian reports that:
Tens of thousands of passengers across Britain and Europe were grounded today as airports closed or faced severe disruption from a plume of ash caused by a volcanic eruption in Iceland.

All non-emergency flights in the UK will be grounded from noon to six because the after-effects of the eruption have made flying too hazardous, air safety officials said.

All flights in and out of Scotland were stopped earlier today with other airports facing severe disruption until the blanket ban was announced. Denmark’s air space will close later this afternoon. Airports and airlines warned cancellations and delays were likely tomorrow and possibly longer as the ash continued to move south and east into northern Europe.

Volcanic ash is drifting south-east from the volcano, located beneath the Eyjafjallajokull glacier about 120km east of Reykjavik. About 800 residents were evacuated from the area yesterday as rivers rose by up to 3 metres.

Overton in sunshine on 15.04.2010

Our spring almanac 02.04.2010 – 08.04.2010

Posted in Uncategorized on April 2, 2010 by espacelab


The beautiful Queen.
Who was Casssiopeia? The constellation known as Cassiopeia is named after a character in the story of Perseus and Andromeda, and that includes Pegasus and the Gorgon Medusa and that originates in the mythology of ancient Greece. Cassiopeia was the queen and consort of King Cepheus in Ethiopia. Their daughter Andromeda was very beautiful. Cassiopeia herself was a great beauty and was vain of it; she proclaimed her beauty was greater than that of the Nereids’, the daughters of the sea god Poseidon. To punish Cassiopeia, he sentenced Andromeda to be tied to a rock with a sea monster awaiting her.

Perseus, returning from having slaughtered the gorgon Medusa, encountered the body of Andromeda lashed to the rock. He spoke to Cassiopeia and her husband and struck a deal with them: he would be allowed to marry Andromeda if he could kill the great sea monster before it killed their virgin daughter (who had been betrothed to her uncle Phineus).

Perseus defeated the monster, took Andromeda and returned to Ethiopia. Cassiopeia and Cepheus fulfilled their end of the bargain and began to plan the wedding for Andromeda. After the nuptials began, Phineus entered the proceedings and demanded his right to marry Andromeda. A battle ensued in which Cepheus and Cassiopeia sided with Phineus. Outnumbered, Perseus considered that he had no choice but to slay his challengers by using the head of the recently slaughtered Medusa. Following their death both Cepheus and Cassiopeia were placed among the stars by Poseidon. Cassiopeia was put upside down for half the year because of her vanity, with her husband beside her.

Roman remains

In ancient Roman Silchester the city population would have been brought up with the ancient Greek myths and stories about the identities of the night sky constellations, just as the story of Romulus, the founder of ancient Rome would have been equally familiar, and as discussed in the previous post.

Clash of the Titans
Coincidentally, this week sees the release of a 3D film inspired by these Greek mythological stories. This is a re-make of a the 1981 film that used, for those days, the most advanced visual cinematic effects.

Cassiopeia was the Constellation Logo for Silchester School.

One of Silchester’s students came up with the image of an Easter Rabbit for the star pattern of Cassiopeia.

The Easter Bunny
The Easter Bunny or Easter Hare is a character depicted as rabbit bringing Easter eggs, who sometimes is depicted with clothes. In legend, the creature brings baskets filled with colored eggs, candy and sometimes also toys to the homes of children on the night before Easter. The Easter Bunny will either put the baskets in a designated place or hide them somewhere in the house or garden for the children to find when they wake up in the morning.

Eggs, like rabbits and hares, are fertility symbols of extreme antiquity. Since birds lay eggs and rabbits and hares give birth to large litters in the early spring, these became symbols of the rising fertility of the earth at the Vernal Equinox.

Cassiopeia A (Cas A) is a supernova remnant in the constellation Cassiopeia and the brightest astronomical radio source in the sky. A supernova remnant (SNR) is the structure resulting from the gigantic explosion of a star in a supernova. The supernova remnant is bounded by an expanding shock wave. A supernova (plural supernovae) is a stellar explosion that is more energetic than a nova. Supernovae are extremely luminous and cause a burst of radiation that often briefly outshines an entire galaxy, before fading from view over several weeks or months.

Special effects using false colours helps reveal the structure of the supernova remnant. A false colour image composited of data from three sources. Red is infrared data from the Spitzer Space Telescope, orange is visible data from the Hubble Space Telescope, and blue and green are data from the Chandra X-ray Observatory. The cyan dot just off-center is the remnant of the star’s core.

The Sun, a star and the Moon drawn by students at Silchester School in Hampshire

Good Friday

Our seven day blog post begins on Good Friday. The most important events in Christianity are the death and later resurrection of Jesus Christ, who Christians believe is the Son of God, and whose life and teachings are the foundation of Christianity. Good Friday is the Friday before Easter. It commemorates the execution of Jesus by crucifixion. As we have already explained in an earlier post about setting the date for Easter, it is the Sunday following the first full moon after the equinox. This is luni-solar (Sun and Moon) calendar calculation.

Good Friday is a day of mourning in church. During special Good Friday services Christians meditate on Jesus’ suffering and death on the cross, and what this means for their faith. In some countries, there are special Good Friday processions, or re-enactments of the Crucifixion. The main service on Good Friday takes place between midday and 3pm. In many churches it takes the form of a meditation based on the seven last words of Jesus on the cross, with hymns, prayers, and short sermons.

Hot Cross Buns
In many historically Christian countries, buns are traditionally eaten on Good Friday, with the cross standing as a symbol of the crucifixion. They are believed by some to pre-date Christianity, although the first recorded use of the term “hot cross bun” is not until 1733; it is believed that buns marked with a cross were eaten by Saxons in honour of the goddess Eostre (the cross is thought to have symbolised the four quarters of the moon); “Eostre” is probably the origin of the name “Easter”. Others claim that the Greeks marked cakes with a cross, much earlier.

Easter Sunday
Easter falls on 4 April this year. Easter commemorates the resurrection of Jesus Christ. It is the most important Christian festival, and the one celebrated with the greatest joy.

Why is April 5 the beginning of the Financial Year?

The famous story that in September 1752 in Britain, crowds of angry people were shouting “Give us back our eleven days!” is probably a myth, partly based on a misinterpretation of this painting by the English artist William Hogarth. Nevertheless, by an Act of Parliament, Wednesday, September 2, 1752 was to be followed by Thursday, September 14, 1752. Eleven days had been taken out of the calendar! This was because of a very necessary calendar reform. The British calendar was still following the Julian Calendar devised by Julius Caesar, and because it had been in use for centuries was 11 days ahead of the true solar year. The adjustment of the calendar would bring Britain into line with all the European countries that had adopted the reforms of 1582 instituted by Pope Gregory XIII, in what is now known as the Gregorian Calendar.

Lots of people didn’t like the change. There were riots in Bristol, and in the City of London bankers objected to the change and refused to pay taxes on the usual date of March 25 1753. They paid up 11 days later on April 5, which still remains the date for the beginning and end of the financial and tax year.

The Haggadah (Hebrew: הגדה‎, “telling”) is a Jewish religious text that sets out the order of the Passover Seder. Reading the Haggadah is a fulfillment of the scriptural commandment to each Jew to “tell your son” about the Jewish liberation from slavery in Egypt as described in the Book of Exodus in the Torah.

The final day of Passover
The eighth and final day of Passover falls on 6 April this year. Passover can be called the Festival of Spring and was an agricultural festival which marked the beginning of the cycle of production and harvest during the time the Jews lived in ancient Palestine. On the last day of Passover a passage from the Book of Isaiah is read which tells of the Messianic era or ‘Passover of the Future’. Passover is also called The Festival of Freedom and is a celebration of freedom, not just in Biblical times, but its importance to the individual today and throughout history. The story of Passover, with its message that slaves can go free, and that the future can be better than the present, has inspired a number of religious sermons, prayers, and the songs of Gospel music.

A spring morning in Silchester 08.04.2010