Archive

Archive for the ‘Mythology’ Category

07/15/2021 – Ephemeris – What the Chinese saw in the face of the Moon

July 15, 2021 Comments off

This is Bob Moler with Ephemeris for Thursday, July 15th. Today the Sun will be up for 15 hours and 13 minutes, setting at 9:25, and it will rise tomorrow at 6:12. The Moon, 2 days before first quarter, will set at 12:45 tomorrow morning.

Looking at the Moon tonight with the naked eye or binoculars, the dark patches called seas, which are really lava filled plains, make out the ears, head, and top part of the body of a rabbit that appears upside down. It’s the Chinese Jade Rabbit, Yutu. The seas involved, with their English names are: Serenity, the top of its body; Tranquility, its head; the more prominent ear is Fertility; while the other ear is a combination of the Bay of Roughness and Sea of Nectar. Yutu is the pet rabbit of the Moon goddess Chang’e, who flew to the Moon to escape her pursuers. The Chinese space agency has named all their moon landers Chang’e and their lunar rovers Yutu in their honor.

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

The Moon tonight with the Jade Rabbit

The Moon tonight with the Jade Rabbit delineated in the seas and one bay the dark lava covered plains of the Moon. Created using Stellarium.

The Jade Rabbit seen on a full moon

The Jade Rabbit seen on a full moon rotated close to what tonight’s Moon is. Actually, the ancient Chinese saw the rabbit pounding medicine.

07/06/2021 – Ephemeris – Looking at the constellation of Lyra the harp

July 6, 2021 Comments off

This is Ephemeris for Tuesday, July 6th. Today the Sun will be up for 15 hours and 26 minutes, setting at 9:30, and it will rise tomorrow at 6:05. The Moon, 3 days before new, will rise at 3:56 tomorrow morning.

High in the east at 11 p.m. can be found a bright star just above a small, narrow, but very distinctive parallelogram of stars. They are the stars of the constellation Lyra the harp. The bright star is Vega, the 5th brightest night-time star. To the Romans, the star Vega represented a falling eagle or vulture. Apparently they never made the distinction between the two species. It is a pure white star and serves as a calibration star for color and brightness. In the evening, it is the top-most star of the Summer Triangle. The harp, according to Greek mythology, was invented by the god Hermes. The form of the harp, in the sky, is as he had invented it: by stretching strings across a tortoise shell. Hermes gave it to his half-brother Apollo, who in turn gave it to the legendary musician Orpheus.

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

Addendum

Annimated Lyra finder chart

Animated Lyra finder chart. The lyre image not supplied by Stellarium but is from The World’s Earliest Music by Hermann Smith, Figure 60, A Project Gutenberg E-Book, and captioned “The Chelys or Greek Tortoiseshell Lyre”. Click on the image to enlarge it. Created using Stellarium and GIMP.

05/31/2021 – Ephemeris – Hercules the constellation

May 31, 2021 Comments off

This is Bob Moler with Ephemeris for Memorial Day, Monday, May 31st. Today the Sun will be up for 15 hours and 19 minutes, setting at 9:20, and it will rise tomorrow at 6:00. The Moon, 2 days before last quarter, will rise at 2:23 tomorrow morning.

Orion, the hard luck mythological Greek hunter gets a splashy constellation in the winter sky, but the greatest hero of all, Hercules, gets a dim group of stars on the border between the spring and summer stars. At 11 p.m. Hercules is fairly high in the east. It is located above and a bit right of the bright star, Vega east-northeast. Hercules’ central feature is a keystone shaped box of stars, called the Keystone laying on its side, which represents the old boy’s shorts. From each left corner stars extend lines of stars that are his legs, from the right stars, the rest of his torso and arms extend. So in one final indignity he’s upside down in our sky. For those with a telescope, Hercules contains the beautiful globular star cluster Messier 13.

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

Addendum

Hercules finder animation

Hercules can be found in the east among the line of constellations at around 11 pm in late May or early June between the bright stars Arcturus and Vega. Created using Stellarium and GIMP.

M13 finder

M 13 is found on the western side of the Keystone. In this orientation when Hercules is in the east, it is the top side. Created using Stellarium with an annotation.

M 13

M 13, the Great Globular Star Cluster in Hercules. Credit: Scott Anttila.

M 13 is the brightest and finest globular star cluster in the northern hemisphere of the sky. It’s at a distance of 25 thousand light years. Some amateur astronomers can spot M 13 with the naked eye. It is a fuzzy spot in binoculars. I can barely resolve some of its stars in an 8-inch (200 mm) telescope. It’s a wonderful sight in anything bigger! The slightly dimmer M 92 is also slightly farther away at nearly 27 thousand light years. 

Click on any of the images above to enlarge them.

 

05/28/2021 – Ephemeris – The Northern Crown

May 28, 2021 Comments off

This is Bob Moler with Ephemeris for Friday, May 28th. Today the Sun will be up for 15 hours and 15 minutes, setting at 9:18, and it will rise tomorrow at 6:01. The Moon, 2 days past full, will rise at 12:19 tomorrow morning.

High in the east-southeast at 11 this evening can be seen a small nearly circular constellation of Corona Borealis, the Northern Crown. It is just below Boötes, the kite shaped constellation off the handle of the Big Dipper. According to Greek myth the crown was given by the gods to the princess Ariadne, daughter of King Minos of Crete. The crown is more like a tiara with the bright star Alphecca at the front. To the Anishinaabe people, who are natives of our region, it is the Sweat Lodge. Part of what we call Hercules next to it is the Exhausted Bather, who is lying on the ground after the ceremony. The seven stones that are heated for the Sweat Lodge are the Pleiades, now too close to the Sun to be seen.

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

Addendum

Corona Borealis and Sweat Lodge
Animated Corona Borealis Finder Chart looking to the east-southeast at 11 p.m. Created using Stellarium and GIMP.

05/10/2021 – Ephemeris – The story of the constellations Boötes and Ursa Major

May 10, 2021 Comments off

This is Bob Moler with Ephemeris for Monday, May 10th. Today the Sun will be up for 14 hours and 38 minutes, setting at 8:58, and it will rise tomorrow at 6:18. The Moon, 1 day before new, will rise at 6:25 tomorrow morning.

Seen in the east at 10 p.m. tonight is the kite shaped constellation of Boötes the herdsman. The bright star Arcturus is at the bottom of the kite to the right. It is pointed to by the arc of the handle of the Big Dipper, higher in the east. Boötes represents a young hunter named Arcas, son of Callisto, a beautiful young lady who had the misfortune of being loved by Zeus the chief of the Greek gods. Zeus’ wife Hera, found out about it, and since she couldn’t punish Zeus, turned the poor woman into a bear. Arcas, many years later, unaware of the events surrounding his mother’s disappearance was about to kill the bear when Zeus intervened and placed them both in the sky to save her, as Arcas still pursues her across the sky nightly.

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

Addendum

Arcas and Callisto as Boötes and Ursa Major
Bootes and Ursa Major aka Arcas chasing Callisto around the pole of the sky. Created using Stellarium.
Arcas and Callisto woodcut
Arcas about to slay the bear by the 17th century artist Baur. Source: University of Virginia Electronic Text Center

05/06/2021 – Ephemeris – Corvus, Crater, Hydra and Apollo

May 6, 2021 Comments off

This is Ephemeris for Thursday, May 6th. Today the Sun will be up for 14 hours and 28 minutes, setting at 8:54, and it will rise tomorrow at 6:24. The Moon, 3 days past last quarter, will rise at 5:04 tomorrow morning.

The small constellation of Corvus the crow is located low in the south at 10:30 this evening. It’s made of 5 dim stars, but the pattern is a distinctive but distorted box with two stars at the upper left marking that corner. To the right is a fainter constellation of a thick stemmed goblet called Crater. Both appear above the long constellation of Hydra the water snake who is slithering just above the southern horizon. In Greek mythology Corvus, then white, was the god Apollo’s pet. Apollo once bid Corvus to take a cup and fetch him some water. Corvus however dallied and waited for a green fig to ripen. He grabbed a snake and returned with a story as to how the snake had delayed him. The angry Apollo turned the crow and all crows to this day black.

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

Addendum

Corvus-Crater-Hydra finder animation
Corvus-Crater-Hydra finder animation for 10:30 pm May 6. Click on the image to enlarge. Created using Stellarium and GIMP.

05/03/2021 – Ephemeris – The constellation of Virgo

May 3, 2021 Comments off

This is Ephemeris for Monday, May 3rd. Today the Sun will be up for 14 hours and 21 minutes, setting at 8:50, and it will rise tomorrow at 6:28. The Moon, at last quarter today, will rise at 3:52 tomorrow morning.

Tonight in the sky: to the southeast is the bright star Spica. Another way to find the star is to find the Big Dipper high overhead and follow the arc of the handle to the bright star Arcturus, and straighten the arc to a spike to meet Spica. It is in the constellation and member of the zodiac: Virgo the virgin. Virgo is a large constellation of a reclining woman holding a stalk of wheat. The bright star in the center of the constellation, Spica, is the head of that spike of wheat; and as such it ruled over the harvest in two of Virgo’s guises as the goddesses Persephone and Ceres. Ceres is now a dwarf planet and the root of the word cereal. Virgo is also identified as Astraea the goddess of justice. The constellation of Libra, the scales of justice, lies at her feet.

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

Addendum

Finding Virgo
Star hop from the Big Dipper through Arcturus to Spica and Virgo. Orientation for 10:30 pm. Created using Stellarium.

03/09/2021 – Ephemeris – A celestial warning to keep off thin ice

March 9, 2021 Comments off

This is Ephemeris for Tuesday, March 9th. Today the Sun will be up for 11 hours and 35 minutes, setting at 6:41, and it will rise tomorrow at 7:03. The Moon, halfway from last quarter to new, will rise at 6:12 tomorrow morning.

The native Anishinaabe peoples of the Great Lakes Region, which includes the tribes of our area, have one constellation of winter I know of. It is The Wintermaker which uses many of Orion’s stars and whose arms stretch from Aldebaran in Taurus the bull to Procyon the Little Dog Star, embracing the whole of the winter sky. Now that spring is nearly here he is sinking into the west, losing to the heat of the Sun. The first constellation of spring is Curly Tail, or the Great Underwater Panther. It uses the stars of Leo the lion’s backward question mark as its curly tail and the small knot of stars that are the head of Hydra the water snake below Cancer the crab as its head. His warning: 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. They may be different for your location.

Addendum

Great Underwater Panther finder animation

The Great Underwater Panther finder animation. Three frame animation of Unannotated sky, International Astronomical Union constellations, and Anishinaabe (Ojibwe) constellations of Curly Tail and Wintermaker. Click on the image to enlarge. Created using Stellarium and GIMP. Additional credits below.

The time is set for the above image is 10 pm on March 9th.

The 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. There is also an Ojibwe Sky Star Map poster suitable for framing.

02/08/2021 – Ephemeris – A look at Gemini the twins

February 8, 2021 Comments off

This is Ephemeris for Monday, February 8th. Today the Sun will be up for 10 hours and 9 minutes, setting at 6:01, and it will rise tomorrow at 7:51. The Moon, 3 days before new, will rise at 6:49 tomorrow morning.

Let’s look at another of the winter constellations, and a member of the Zodiac. The constellation of Gemini the Twins is visible high in the southeast, above and left of Orion the hunter at 9 p.m. The namesake stars of the two lads, will be at the left end of Gemini, are nearly overhead and vertically aligned. Castor is on top, while the slightly brighter Pollux is below. From them come two lines of stars that outline the two extending toward Orion. In Greek mythology the lads were half brothers, Castor was fathered by a mere mortal, while Pollux was fathered by Zeus, but were born together as twins. When Castor was killed during the quest for the Golden Fleece, Pollux pleaded with Zeus to let him die also, so Zeus placed them together in the sky, so they could be together forever.

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

Addendum

Gemini Finder animation

Gemini finder animation for early February at 9 pm (about 3 hours after sunset). Created using Stellarium and GIMP.

12/08/2020 – Ephemeris – Finding Taurus the bull

December 8, 2020 Comments off

This is Ephemeris for Tuesday, December 8th. Today the Sun will be up for 8 hours and 54 minutes, setting at 5:02, and it will rise tomorrow at 8:08. The Moon, 1 day past last quarter, will rise at 1:39 tomorrow morning.

Orion is the big splashy constellation in the east southeast by 9 in the evening. Above it is another famous constellation Taurus the bull. Its face is a letter V shape of stars on its side with the open end of the V to the left. The bright star at the lower left end of the sideways V is the ruddy star Aldebaran, the Bull’s angry bloodshot eye. The bull is charging down at Orion. The Pleiades, also known as the seven sisters, is the cluster of stars in his shoulder, above the V. The stars in the face of Taurus, except for Aldebaran belong to a star cluster like the Pleiades, but closer and older, called the Hyades. In Greek mythology the Hyades are half sisters to the Pleiades, all fathered by the god Atlas.

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

Addendum

Taurus and Orion

Three views of Taurus the bull and Orion the hunter for 9 p.m. on December 8th. Created using Stellarium and GIMP.

Hyades and Pleiades

The Pleiades (right) and the Hyades (left) in this photograph I took January 4, 2016. The orientation is a bit different from how it appears in early December.