Archive

Archive for the ‘Mythology’ Category

11/17/2020 – Ephemeris – The Pleiades in legends from different cultures

November 17, 2020 Comments off

This is Ephemeris for Tuesday, November 17th. Today the Sun will be up for 9 hours and 29 minutes, setting at 5:12, and it will rise tomorrow at 7:44. The Moon, 2 days past new, will set at 7:23 this evening.

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

Addendum

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, https://www.nps.gov/deto.

The Pleiades, about what you'd see in binoculars.

The Pleiades, about what you’d see in binoculars, more than the 6 or 7 stars visible to the naked eye. The brighter stars are Freya’s Hens and also the Seven Sisters and Indian maidens. Credit Bob Moler.

Pleiades finder animation

Pleiades finder animation looking east about 8 pm in mid-November. Created using Stellarium.

10/08/2020 – Ephemeris – A lady with a not so hidden jewel

October 8, 2020 Comments off

This is Ephemeris for Thursday, October 8th. Today the Sun will be up for 11 hours and 19 minutes, setting at 7:09, and it will rise tomorrow at 7:51. The Moon, 1 day before last quarter, will rise at 11:09 this evening.

The stars of the constellations Andromeda the chained princess look like they’re supposed to be the hind legs of Pegasus the flying horse which is high in the southern sky above Mars at 9 p.m. Andromeda is high in the southeast She is seen in the sky as two diverging curved strings of stars that curve to the left and up from the upper leftmost star of the Great Square of Pegasus. Her predicament was caused by her boastful mother Cassiopeia, and the wrath of the god Poseidon. She was rescued by the hero Perseus, a nearby constellation, riding his steed Pegasus. Andromeda’s claim to astronomical fame is the large galaxy barely visible to the unaided eye just above the upper line of stars, the Great Andromeda Galaxy 2.5 million light years away.

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

Addendum

Andromeda and M31 animated finder

Andromeda animated finder, including the Great Andromeda Galaxy. I’ve added Cassiopeia that some folks use to find the galaxy. I start with the leftmost star of the Great Square of Pegasus that connects to Andromeda. I count off two star on the lower curve because they are brighter than the upper curve. Then count two stars up. Next to that top star is a little smudge. That is the core of the Great Andromeda Galaxy. Created using Stellarium and GIMP.

The Great Andromeda Galaxy (M31). Image taken by Scott Anttila.

The Great Andromeda Galaxy (M31) and two of its satellite galaxies M31 (left) and M110. Image taken by Scott Anttila.

 

09/17/2020 – Ephemeris – Finding Cassiopeia the queen and Cepheus the king

September 17, 2020 Comments off

This is Ephemeris for Thursday, September 17th. Today the Sun will be up for 12 hours and 24 minutes, setting at 7:48, and it will rise tomorrow at 7:25. The Moon is new today, and won’t be visible.

The stars of the autumn skies are slowly replacing the summer stars from the east. Look midway up in the northeastern sky in the evening and you can find the W shaped constellation of Cassiopeia the queen. Cassiopeia is so far north that it never sets for us in Michigan. It is opposite the pole star Polaris from the handle of Big Dipper. There’s a dim star that appears above the middle star of the W which turns it into a very crooked backed chair, Cassiopeia’s throne. Above and left of Cassiopeia is a dim upside down church steeple shaped constellation of Cepheus the king, her husband. The Milky Way flows through Cassiopeia toward the northeastern horizon. She is a character in an autumn star story with five other constellations.

For my retelling of the Greek myth that links these autumn constellations click here.

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

Addendum

Cassiopeia and Cepheus finder animation

Cassiopeia and Cepheus finder animation looking in the northeast at 9 pm or about an hour after sunset in mid-September. Created using Stellarium and GIMP.

 

09/15/2020 – Ephemeris – The dolphin and the arrow, small summer constellations

September 15, 2020 Comments off

This is Bob Moler with Ephemeris for Tuesday, September 15th. Today the Sun will be up for 12 hours and 30 minutes, setting at 7:52, and it will rise tomorrow at 7:23. The Moon, 2 days before new, will rise at 6:01 tomorrow morning.

Located below the eastern edge of the Summer Triangle of three of the brightest stars in the sky, which is nearly overhead in our sky at 10 p.m., is the tiny constellation of Delphinus the dolphin. Delphinus’ 6 stars in a small parallelogram with a tail, really does look like a dolphin leaping out of the water. The parallelogram itself has the name Job’s Coffin. The origin of this asterism or informal constellation is unknown. Of the dolphin itself: the ancient Greeks appreciated this aquatic mammal as we do, and told stories of dolphins rescuing shipwrecked sailors. There’s another tiny constellation to the right of Delphinus, Sagitta the arrow a small thin group of 5 stars, which represents Cupid’s dart.

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

Addendum

Delphinus and Sagitta finder animation

Delphinus and Sagitta finder animation. Created using Stellarium and GIMP.

09/03/2020 – Ephemeris – Why is the new NASA Moon landing program called Artemis?

September 3, 2020 Comments off

This is Ephemeris for Thursday, September 3rd. Today the Sun will be up for 13 hours and 6 minutes, setting at 8:14, and it will rise tomorrow at 7:09. The Moon, 1 day past full, will rise at 9:20 this evening.

Why is the new NASA crewed Moon landing program called Artemis? And why is it crewed, and not manned? Artemis was a Greek deity and Apollo’s twin sister. He was the god of the Sun and she was goddess, among other things, of the Moon. So she has a greater connection to the Moon than Apollo did. Spacecraft now-a-days are crewed, rather than manned to denote that both sexes are chosen to be astronauts in nearly equal numbers now. Of course that’s crewed spelled c-r-e-w-e-d, not c-r-u-d-e, though they sound the same. Deities of the Moon tend to be female be they Artemis, Cynthia, Luna, Selene, or Chang’e. Astronomers use Cynthia, Luna, and Selene (pronounced Sel-e-nae) in naming various aspects of the Moon and Chang’e is the goddess that the Chinese name their lunar landers after.

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

Addendum

NASA Artemis Logo

The logo chosen by NASA for the Artemis Program. The blue crescent at the bottom represents the earth. The gray ball at the top is the Moon. The curved red path is the stylized return path from the Moon to the Earth of the Orion capsule. Credit: NASA.

Artemis, goddess of the hunt and the Moon.

Artemis, goddess of the hunt and the Moon. Credit: Disney (Fantasia) source Daily Kos.

 

Categories: Mythology, NASA, The Moon Tags:

07/09/2020 – Ephemeris – The constellation of Lyra the harp

July 9, 2020 Comments off

Jul 9. This is Bob Moler with Ephemeris for Thursday, July 9th. Today the Sun will be up for 15 hours and 22 minutes, setting at 9:29, and it will rise tomorrow at 6:07. The Moon, 3 days before last quarter, will rise at 12:30 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. It is a pure white star and serves as a calibration star for color and brightness. 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 event times given are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan. They may be different for your location.

Addendum

Lyra

Lyra as a tortoise shell harp. Created using Stellarium and free clip art.

06/18/2020 – Ephemeris – Finding the constellation Hercules

June 18, 2020 Comments off

This is Ephemeris for Thursday, June 18th. Today the Sun will be up for 15 hours and 34 minutes, setting at 9:31, and it will rise tomorrow at 5:56. The Moon, 3 days before new, will rise at 4:48 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 very high in the east-southeast. It is located above and right of the bright star, Vega in the east. Hercules’ central feature is a box shaped of star wider at the top than the bottom, called the Keystone, which represents the old boy’s shorts. From each top corner extend lines of stars that are his legs, from the bottom stars, the rest of his torso and arms extend. So in one final indignity he’s upside down in our sky. Some see him crouched down, club upraised holding the Hydra about to throttle it. For those with a telescope it contains the beautiful globular star cluster M13.

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

Addendum

Hercules finder

Hercules animation showing neighboring stars at 11 p.m. for mid June, Click on image to enlarge. Created using Stellarium.

M13

M13, the Great Globular Star Cluster in Hercules. Credit: Scott Anttila

Stars and M13 visuble in Binoculars in the Keystone of Hercules

Stars and M13 (Great Star Cluster in Hercules) visible in binoculars in the Keystone of Hercules. Click in the image to enlarge. Created using Stellarium.

06/16/2020 – Ephemeris – One circlet of stars, two constellations: old world and new world

June 16, 2020 Comments off

This is Ephemeris for Tuesday, June 16th. Today the Sun will be up for 15 hours and 34 minutes, setting at 9:30, and it will rise tomorrow at 5:56. The Moon, 3 days past last quarter, will rise at 3:52 tomorrow morning.

High in the south-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 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/Sweat Lodge Finder Chart looking to the south-southeast at 11 p.m. June 16th. Click on the image to enlarge Created using Stellarium and GIMP.

05/21/2020 – Ephemeris – A star cluster in a most unusual spot

May 21, 2020 Comments off

This is Ephemeris for Thursday, May 21st. Today the Sun will be up for 15 hours and 3 minutes, setting at 9:11, and it will rise tomorrow at 6:07. The Moon, 1 day before new, will rise at 6:16 tomorrow morning.

High in the south at 10:30 p.m. or so is a tiny and faint constellation of Coma Berenices, or Berenice’s hair. In it are lots of faint stars arrayed to look like several strands of hair. The whole group will fit in the field of a pair of binoculars, which will also show many more stars. The hank of hair supposed belonged to Berenice II, Queen of Egypt, in the 3rd century BCE. Coma Berenices is the second closest star cluster to us at only 250 light years away, after the Hyades, the face of Taurus the bull a winter constellation. It’s in an odd spot for a galactic star cluster, which are supposed to lie in the plane of the Milky Way. It’s actually seen at the galactic pole, as far as possible away from the milky band. It’s a matter of perspective because it’s so close to us. It’s still really in the plane of the Milky Way.

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

Addendum

Coma Berenices and the galactic pole

Coma Berenices and galactic coordinated showing how close to the galactic pole it is. The bright star Arcturus at the left edge.  Leo’s hind end is at the lower right. Created using Cartes du Ciel (Sky Charts).

Coma Berenices

Approximate 7 power binocular field of view of the Coma Berenices Star Cluster. Created using Cartes du Ciel (Sky Charts).

Note: There is another cluster in the constellation.  It’s called the Coma Cluster.  It’s a cluster of over a thousand galaxies a bit over 300 million light years away.

05/14/2020 – Ephemeris – Finding the zodiacal constellation of Virgo

May 14, 2020 Comments off

This is Ephemeris for Thursday, May 14th. Today the Sun will be up for 14 hours and 48 minutes, setting at 9:03, and it will rise tomorrow at 6:14. The Moon, at last quarter today, will rise at 3:36 tomorrow morning.

Tonight at 11 p.m. in the south is the constellation and member of the of the zodiac: Virgo the virgin. Virgo is a large constellation of a reclining woman holding a stalk of wheat. 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. Virgo is also identified as Astraea the goddess of justice. The constellation of Libra, the scales, which she is associated with, is found just east of her low in the southeast. Early Christians who sought to de-paganize the heavens saw Virgo as the Virgin Mary. Virgo is the host to a great cluster of galaxies seen far beyond its stars. Tomorrow morning Mars will appear just above the Moon for very early risers.

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

Addendum

Virgo finder animation

Virgo finder animation with Leo added as an aid for 11 p.m. tonight May 14th. Click on image to enlarge. Created using Stellarium and GIMP.

Virgo

Virgo as depicted in Urania’s Mirror, a set of constellation cards published in London c.1825. From the Library of Congress. Hat tip Wikipedia.