Archive for November 4, 2021

11/04/2021 – Ephemeris – Myths of the Pleiades from some other cultures

November 4, 2021 Comments off

This is Ephemeris for Thursday, November 4th. The Sun will rise at 8:25. It’ll be up for 10 hours and 1 minute, setting at 6:26. The Moon is new today, and won’t be visible.

Let’s look at how some other cultures saw the Pleiades, the star cluster that is seen in the eastern sky these evenings. To the Anishinaabe native peoples around here, the Pleiades is the “Hole in the Sky” or the seven stones that are heated for the sweat lodge ceremony. To the Kiowa, these were sister stars that had been whisked into the sky from the top of Devil’s Tower in Wyoming, where they were threatened by a huge bear. In Norse mythology, these were the goddess Freya’s hens. The name we know them by has rather misty origins. Some think the Greek name is from the mother of the seven sisters, Pleione. The Greek word for sail is similar to Pleiades, and it seems the appearance of the Pleiades in the morning sky saw the best sailing weather in the Mediterranean.

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


Pleiades finder animation

Finding the Pleiades animation for 9 p.m. October 29, 2019. Created using Stellarium and GIMP.

Devil's Tower

Seven maidens being attacked by a giant bear, having fled to the top of Devil’s Tower in Wyoming. Painting by Herbert Collins,

They are also the Seven Daughters of the Moon and Sun. They loved to dance and play, and when their father, the Moon was low in the sky, would descend to the Earth in a basket to do their thing. On one of their trips to the earth, one of them was captured by a human, and she ended up falling in love with him, and married him. When father Moon found out he permanently dimmed her star, so now most people now only can spot 6 of the stars. This last bit seems to parallel the Greek story of the lost Pleiad.