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03/24/2022 – Ephemeris – A native constellation that’s a warning

March 24, 2022 Comments off

This is Bob Moler with Ephemeris for Thursday, March 24th. Today the Sun will be up for 12 hours and 22 minutes, setting at 8:00, and it will rise tomorrow at 7:36. The Moon, 1 day before last quarter, will rise at 3:59 tomorrow morning.

The Anishinaabe peoples of the Great Lakes Region, which include the Ottawa and Chippewa Indians, have several constellations of spring. The first of them is Curly Tail, or the Great Underwater Panther, who lurks under the ice in lakes. It uses the stars of Leo the lion’s backward question mark, in the southeast at 9:30 in the evening, as its curved tail and the small knot of stars that are the head of Hydra the water snake as its head. The head of Hydra is below the constellation of Cancer, and in the south-southwest and to the right of the backwards question mark of Leo. The warning he gives is to keep off the thinning ice or break through and be snatched by the great panther that lives below.

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.

Addendum

Anishinaabe constellation of Curly Tail and the Great (Underwater) Panther

An animation showing the stars centered in the southeastern skies, the “official” constellations and the Anishinaabe constellation of Curly Tail and the Great (Underwater) Panther. Approximate time is 9:30 pm March 24th. Click on the image to enlarge. Created using Stellarium and GIMP.

03/07/2022 – Ephemeris – The Fisher announces the beginning of the Maple sugaring season

March 7, 2022 Comments off

This is Ephemeris for Monday, March 7th. Today the Sun will be up for 11 hours and 28 minutes, setting at 6:38, and it will rise tomorrow at 7:07. The Moon, 3 days before first quarter, will set at 12:19 tomorrow morning.

March is a month of transitions. The stars of the winter skies, that is Orion and his merry band of bright stars, move to the west as those of spring rise in the east. The Big Dipper is ascending in the northeastern sky, after lying low in the north during the long dark evenings in the heart of winter. The dipper is the hind end of the Great Bear, officially Ursa Major. The Anishinaabe peoples of the Great Lakes region saw the Big Dipper as the hind end and tail of a magical creature called Fisher, or in their language Ojiig, who brought summer to the Earth. Its position in the sky around the pole announces the seasons. The Fisher’s ascension high into the northeastern sky signals this month’s maple sugaring season.

The astronomical event times given are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan (EST, UT – 5 hours). They may be different for your location.

Addendum

Fisher announcing maple sugaring season - animation

The Fisher announcing maple sugaring season – animation. Star positions for about 2 hours after sunset, near 45 degrees north latitude, for a week into March. Created using Stellarium and GIMP.

For the story of how the Fisher brought summer to the earth, and why he’s got an arrow sticking into his tail, click here.

11/29/2021 – Ephemeris – Orion is rising in the evening sky

November 29, 2021 Comments off

This is Bob Moler with Ephemeris for Monday, November 29th. Today the Sun will be up for 9 hours and 6 minutes, setting at 5:04, and it will rise tomorrow at 7:59. The Moon, 2 days past last quarter, will rise at 3:07 tomorrow morning.

In the east, the central winter constellation Orion the hunter throws a leg over the horizon between 8 and 9 p.m. as Robert Frost told in his poem Star-Splitter. The upright rectangle that is his body on December evenings is tilted to the left as he rises, with a bright red star Betelgeuse at the top left of the rectangle, his shoulder. At the opposite corner is blue-white Rigel, a knee. In the center of the rectangle is a line of three stars nearly vertically aligned as he rises, which represents Orion’s belt. The Anishinaabe native peoples of this area call him the Wintermaker. His rising in the evening heralds the coming of winter.

The astronomical event times given are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan (EST, UT – 5 hours). They may be different for your location.

Addendum

Orion and Wintermaker rising animation

The stars of Orion and Wintermaker rising in this 4-step animation: Stars only, Western constellation lines and bright star names, Western constellation figure, Ojibwe (Anishinaabe) constellation figure. Created using Stellarium and GIMP.

11/26/2021 – Ephemeris – Native American Heritage Day

November 26, 2021 Comments off

This is Ephemeris for Native American Heritage Day, Friday, November 26th. Today the Sun will be up for 9 hours and 11 minutes, setting at 5:05, and it will rise tomorrow at 7:55. The Moon, 1 day before last quarter, will rise at 11:33 this evening.

It’s also Black Friday, the day retail stores theoretically make it into the black, profit-wise. When looking at the sky and the few constellations of the native Anishinaabe people of our area, I am saddened there aren’t more of them. There were heroes, warriors, animals, fantastic and real, just like the Greek ones we learned of the European world. But they were lost in the attempted assimilation of these people into white society. It’s like the Borg of Star Trek: “You will be assimilated”. The atrocities of the Indian boarding schools are slowly coming to light, while certain powerful people want all the racial unpleasantness swept under the rug.

The astronomical event times given are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan (EST, UT – 5 hours). They may be different for your location.

Addendum

Anishinaabe November Sky

The Anishinaabe November Sky. Clockwise (sort of) from the top or North. The Fisher (Big Dipper); Loon (Little Dipper); Exhausted Bather (Hercules), in the northwest; high in the west, the Crane (Cygnus); nearly overhead, the Moose (Pegasus); and in the east the Wintermaker (Orion). Click on the image to enlarge it. Created using Stellarium. The Anishinaabe constellation drawings are from Ojibwe Sky Star Map Constellation Guide by Annette S. Lee, William Wilson, Jeffrey Tibbets and Carl Gawboy available locally and online. They are part of the latest editions of Stellarium, a free planetarium program. Links to it are on the right. Other information and links are available within Stellarium.

10/08/2021 – Ephemeris – How the Fisher paints the trees their autumn colors

October 8, 2021 Comments off

This is Bob Moler with Ephemeris for Friday, October 8th. Today the Sun will be up for 11 hours and 20 minutes, setting at 7:09, and it will rise tomorrow at 7:51. The Moon, 2 days past new, will set at 8:35 this evening.

The tree leaves are beginning to turn to reds and yellows as we advance into autumn. The native Anishinaabe peoples, whose homeland we share, have a story about how that came to be. Of how a magical weasel-like creature called the Fisher or, in their native language, Ojiig, brought summer to the Earth from Skyland. For his trouble, he was shot with an arrow in his only vulnerable spot, the tip of his tail. As he fell to Earth Gichi Manitou, the Great Spirit, caught him and placed him in the sky where we see the Great Bear and the Big Dipper. Every late autumn night we see his tail, the handle of the dipper, slowly swooping down to the horizon where his bloody tail paints the trees with their autumn colors.

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.

Addendum

Fisher brushing his tail along the horizon

An animation of the Fisher brushing his tail along the horizon on autumn nights. Created using Stellarium and GIMP.

The Anishinaabe constellation drawings are from Ojibwe Sky Star Map Constellation Guide  by Annette S. Lee, William Wilson, Jeffrey Tibbets and Carl Gawboy available locally and online.  They are part of the latest editions of Stellarium, a free planetarium program.  Links to it are on the right.  Other information and links are available within the Stellarium.

Here’s one of the links: http://www.nativeskywatchers.com/.  It also contains links to Lakota star maps and lore.

09/27/2021 – Ephemeris – The native peoples constellations of the Crane and the Moose

September 27, 2021 Comments off

This is Ephemeris for Monday, September 27th. Today the Sun will be up for 11 hours and 53 minutes, setting at 7:30, and it will rise tomorrow at 7:37. The Moon, 1 day before last quarter, will rise at 11:00 this evening.

The evening sky hosts two more of the constellations of the Anishinaabe native peoples of our area. Overhead, where the official constellation Cygnus the Swan is, or the Northern Cross is Ajijaak, the Sand Hill Crane flying northward through the Milky Way, wings outstretched, with its long legs trailing behind. In the eastern sky where the official constellation of Pegasus the flying horse is climbing the sky upside down is. His body is the Great Square, an informal constellation. To the Anishinaabe, it is the Mooz (Moose), who is upright. His magnificent antlers take up the dim official constellation of Lacerta the lizard between Pegasus and Cygnus. Also in the sky is Ojiig the Fisher, our Big Dipper, whose bloody tail will soon swoop down and paint the trees with their fall colors. (You can search for “Fisher” above right for his story, and his relevant appearances in autumn and late winter.)

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.

Addendum

Anishinaabe constallation of the Crane an Moose

The Anishinaabe constellations of Ajijaak, the Crane and Mooz (Moose) compared to the official International Astronomical Union (IAU) constellations. Created using Stellarium and GIMP.

The Ojibwe constellation art is part of the latest versions of Stellarium. Ojibwe (Anishinaabe) constellation art by Annette S Lee and William Wilson from Ojibwe Sky Star Map Constellation Guide, ISBN 978-0-615-98678-4.

09/02/2021 – Ephemeris – Finding the Little Dipper

September 2, 2021 Comments off

This is Bob Moler with Ephemeris for Thursday, September 2nd. Today the Sun will be up for 13 hours and 10 minutes, setting at 8:17, and it will rise tomorrow at 7:07. The Moon, 3 days past last quarter, will rise at 2:55 tomorrow morning.

10 p.m. is the best time now to spot the Little Dipper. It is difficult to spot, being much smaller and dimmer than the Big Dipper. However, it is the Big Dipper that points to it, by the two stars at the front of the bowl which point to the North Star, Polaris, the star that doesn’t appear to move. That star is the tip of the handle of the Little Dipper. The handle is seen as a curve of stars upward and to the left to a small box of stars that is its bowl. The two brighter stars at the front of the bowl are called the Guard Stars because in the past they were thought to be guardians of the pole. The Little Dipper is not an official constellation, but is Ursa Minor the lesser bear. To the Anishinaabe native peoples of this area, it represents Maang the loon.

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

Little Dipper finder animation

Little Dipper finder animation. The Little Dipper is also Ursa Major and the Loon. Polaris is the Pole Star and North Star. The Guard Stars are Kochab and Pherkad. Except for the named stars, the Little Dipper stars are quite faint and require moonless skies away from the city to spot. Created using Stellarium and GIMP.

07/29/2021 – Ephemeris – Anishinaabe constellation of their hero

July 29, 2021 Comments off

This is Bob Moler with Ephemeris for Thursday, July 29th. Today the Sun will be up for 14 hours and 45 minutes, setting at 9:11, and it will rise tomorrow at 6:27. The Moon, 2 days before last quarter, will rise at 12:17 tomorrow morning. | Tuesday I talked about the constellation Scorpius the scorpion now seen low in the southern sky in the evening. To me, the stars here make a very good scorpion. Scorpius was invented by people of the Middle East, where scorpions are plentiful. The Anishinaabe native peoples of our area, however, saw one of their legendary hero figures, Nenabozho*. In the sky, the arc of three stars at the front of the scorpion and to the right of the bright star Antares is his bow. He is shooting an arrow toward the receding Great Panther or Curly Tail a constellation of spring whose curl of a tail is the head of the constellation Leo, now lost in the evening twilight in the west. Nenabozho was a hero in their creation stories, a trickster who was often seen as a rabbit.

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.

Addenda

* Nenabozho is pronounced like Nana-bouz-hou, though different tribes pronounced it differently. I could not find Nenabozho and its various other transliterations, one of which was Nanaboozhoo in the Ojibwe People’s Dictionary (https://ojibwe.lib.umn.edu/). However, since he occasionally shape-shifted into being a rabbit his name includes a part of the name for rabbit, waabooz. That entry had several audio examples. That’s how I got the pronunciation for the radio program.

Finder chart

Nenabozho animated finder chart

Animated finder for the Anishinaabe constellation of Nenabozho showing the unannotated star field, the Western constellation of Scorpius and Nenabozho. Created using Stellarium (both star lore images are embedded in Stellarium). The Anishinaabe image is embedded in Stellarium and is from Ojibwe Giizhig Anung Masinaaigan – Ojibiwe Sky Star Map created by A. Lee, W. Wilson, and C. Gawboy.

 

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.

06/07/2021 – Ephemeris – The Little Dipper, aka Ursa Minor

June 7, 2021 Comments off

 This is Ephemeris for Monday, June 7th.  Today the Sun will be up for 15 hours and 28 minutes, setting at 9:26, and it will rise tomorrow at 5:57.  The Moon, 3 days before new, will rise at 4:54 tomorrow morning.

One of the constellations I don’t talk about much, except in passing is Ursa Minor, the Little Bear, better known as the Little Dipper. As a dipper goes, its handle is bent the wrong way. Anyway, this time of year in the evening, it’s standing on the tip of it’s handle the North Star Polaris. Polaris is pointed to by the front two stars of the Big Dipper. As dippers go they pour their contents into each other. The second and third-brightest stars of the Little Dipper are at the front of the bowl, and are Kochab and Pherkad, the Guard Stars, that is Guardians of the Pole. To the Anishinaabe native peoples of our area the Little Dipper is Maang, the Loon.

The astronomical event times given are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan. They may be different for your location.

Addendum

Little Dipper finder animation

Little Dipper finder animation with bonus frame with Draco the dragon. Click on the image to enlarge. Created using Stellarium. Animation and star names added with GIMP.