Skip to ContentSkip to Navigation
About usNews and EventsNews articles

Astronomer Peter Barthel researches Santa books and gift wrap

25 November 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:05 January 2018 11.02 a.m.
printView this page in: Nederlands

More news

  • 16 July 2019

    Thirteen Veni grants for young Groningen researchers

    Thirteen researchers from the University of Groningen (UG) and the UMCG have been awarded Veni grants within the framework of NWO’s Innovational Research Incentives Scheme. A terrific result building on last year's successes, where 12 Groningen researchers...

  • 11 July 2019

    UG to build new observatory in dark Lauwersmeer Region

    The Kapteyn Astronomical Institute of the University of Groningen is working on a concrete plan for a new observatory in the Dark Sky Park Lauwersmeer. The observatory will be placed at the Lauwersnest Activity Centre of Staatsbosbeheer in Lauwersoog...

  • 11 July 2019

    Major companies’ annual reports too vague about climate impact

    Many major Dutch companies publish extensive information about climate impact in their annual reports. However, very few companies provide concrete, detailed information about their own CO2 emissions, the impact of climate change on their business...