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07/12/2021 – Ephemeris – Two cultures look at the star pattern of Cygnus the swan

July 12, 2021 Comments off

This is Ephemeris for Monday, July 12th. Today the Sun will be up for 15 hours and 18 minutes, setting at 9:27, and it will rise tomorrow at 6:09. The Moon, 3 days past new, will set at 11:33 this evening.

Last week I looked at the constellation of Cygnus the swan and the informal constellation or asterism made from most of its stars, the Northern Cross. Cygnus is the official International Astronomical Union constellation name. However, the indigenous Anishinaabe people of our area, and the northern Great Lakes, had another bird in mind when seeing these stars, which are now fairly high in the east in the evening: Ajijaak, (pronounced a-ji-jock) a Sand Hill crane. While the swan is flying, neck outstretched to the south through the Milky Way, the crane is flying northward with its long legs trailing behind. The bright star Deneb is at its head. I see more cranes than swans around here in recent years and hear their creaking-door-like calls, and can see a pair foraging, from time to time, in a field south of where I live.

The astronomical event times given are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan (EDT, UT – 4 hr). They may be different for your location.

Addendum

Swan and the Crane constellations

The IAU Cygnus the swan and the Anishinaabe Ajijaak the crane constellations demonstrated via an animated GIF image. Click on the image to enlarge it. Credit Stellarium (both star lore images are embedded in Stellarium). The Anishinaabe image is from Ojibwe Giizhig Anung Masinaaigan – Ojibwe Sky Star Map created by A. Lee, W. Wilson, and C. Gawboy.