Skip to ContentSkip to Navigation
founded in 1614  -  top 100 university

Astronomer Peter Barthel researches Santa books and gift wrap

November 25, 2011

The December 2011 issue of the international journal Communicating Astronomy with the Public will feature an article by Dutch astronomy professor Peter Barthel, analysing illustrations of the moon on gift wrap and in children’s books, in the Netherlands and the USA. On the basis of research conducted during the winter of 2010-2011, Barthel concluded that the crescent moon and half-moon are often drawn incorrectly on gift wrap and in books dealing with Santa Claus and his Dutch peer Saint Nicholas, or Sinterklaas.

Correct illustration of the moon
Correct illustration of the moon

Where the illustrator would actually like to depict an evening event, often the third quarter moon - the morning moon - is drawn. This lack of knowledge concerning the physical origin of the moon phases is found to be widespread in the Netherlands but also clearly exists in the USA, and is quite possibly a worldwide phenomenon. The author also investigated moon illustrations related to Halloween, finding similar results, and concludes: ‘Many people do not seem to know that a waning crescent moon rises around 2 or 3 a.m. ...’

 

Although Barthel spends most of his time investigating Active Galaxies and Active Galactic Nuclei, he also has a keen interest in science communication and education. ‘If this research stimulates people to see for themselves what the moon phase is during the evening – and to understand it – this tongue-in-cheek research will have been well worth the effort!’

Preprint: http://arxiv.org/abs/1111.5489 


More information: Prof. Peter Barthel

See also: http://www.astro.rug.nl/~pdb/santa.html

Last modified:July 04, 2014 21:28

More news

  • February 02, 2016Computer software helps police fight child pornography

    Industrial engineer Laura Fernández Robles has developed software solutions for three different industrial partners requiring image recognition: pig farmers, manufacturers and the Spanish police. By combining different approaches, she was able to help...

  • January 28, 2016Niels Taatgen elected Lecturer of the Year

    Prof. Niels Taatgen has been elected University of Groningen Lecturer of the Year 2015. The professor of Cognitive Modelling at the Faculty of Mathematics and Natural Sciences was awarded the Jury Prize on Education Day. Prof. Oscar Couwenberg, chair...

  • January 27, 2016University of Groningen researcher Jeanine Olsen publishes seagrass genome in Nature

    An international consortium of 35 labs led by University of Groningen Professor of Marine Biology Jeanine Olsen published the genome of the seagrass Zostera marina in the scientific journal Nature on January 27th. Seagrasses are the only flowering...