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7 March 2006

Second Saturday Safari:
St. Patty’s Cosmic Serpent Show

A LONG TIME AGO in Ireland, there was a man named St. Patrick. But before he became a saint, he was just a man named Patrick. To become a saint he had to perform a miracle, and his big miracle was chasing all the snakes out of Ireland. Most people in Ireland didn't like snakes. They thought snakes were slimy, poisonous and had big nasty fangs. People were afraid of them. Patrick didn't like snakes either, and was afraid of them for the same reasons. He decided it would be a pretty good miracle to get rid of them, and so on the day he told the people he would chase all the snakes out of Ireland, he showed up with a drum made of snakeskin and walked down the middle of Dublin town beating it so loud that the windows shook.

The noise made people clap their hands over their ears. The snakes, of course, had no hands, and couldn't protect their ears from the noise. All they could do was slither away. And as Patrick walked into the countryside and through the farms and little villages, out came the snakes, slithering away from the noise. Out from under the rocks came the rock snakes, and out from the barns and stables came the milk snakes, and out from the high meadows came the grass snakes, and Patrick drove the whole hissing, wriggling mass of them into the Irish Sea. From then on, people called him St. Patrick and there were no more snakes in Ireland.

Saint Patrick’s Day is celebrated each year on March 17th.  In Ireland, Saint Patrick’s Day is both a holy day and a national holiday.  Saint Patrick is the patron saint of Ireland as he was the one who brought Christianity to the Irish. 

According to legend, Saint Patrick used a shamrock to explain about God.  The shamrock, which looks like clover, has three leaves on each stem.  Saint Patrick told the people that the shamrock was like the idea of the Trinity – that in the one God there are three divine beings:  the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.  The shamrock was sacred to the Druids, so Saint Patrick’s use of it in explaining the trinity was very wise. Although it began in Ireland, Saint Patrick’s Day is celebrated in countries around the world.  People with Irish heritage remind themselves of the beautiful green countryside of Ireland by wearing green and taking part in the festivities.

Join JSU Field Schools for a fun and educational program about St. Patrick, the truth about snakes and astronomy by attending the Second Saturday Space Safaris: St. Patty’s Cosmic Serpents Show where Renee Morrison will present a LIVE snake show (showing seven of her own sweet snakes from a tiny hog-nosed snake to a giant red-tailed boa) to explain the myths associated with the story of St. Patrick’s famous snake exodus as well as the facts about these “interesssssting sssssserpents.” Participants will learn about the legends of St. Patrick as he “drummed the snakes out of Ireland,” and Dr. Laura Weinkauf will take participants on an exciting journey back in time to see what the night sky might have looked like during the days of St. Patty. Make sure you wear your GREEN! To learn about the JSU planetarium, visit our website

  • Date: Saturday, March 11, 2006

  • Where: JSU Planetarium (3rd Floor Martin Hall)

  • Time: 1:30 p.m. – 2:30 p.m. (additional shows may be necessary)

  • Fee: $5/adult; $2.50/students

  • Pre-registration is suggested . . . especially for groups

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