Archive

Archive for the ‘Mythology’ Category

03/16/2017 – Ephemeris – Curly Tail, The Great Underwater Panther

March 16, 2017 Comments off

Ephemeris for Thursday, March 16th.  The Sun will rise at 7:52.  It’ll be up for 11 hours and 57 minutes, setting at 7:50.  The Moon, half way from full to last quarter, will rise at 12:03 tomorrow morning.

The Anishinabek people of the Great Lakes Region, which includes the Ottawa, Chippewa and Ojibwe Indians have two constellations of winter that I know of.  The first is The Winter Maker which uses many of Orion’s stars plus Procyon the Little Dog Star.  It rises in the eastern skies in the evening as winter is beginning.  The second is the Curly Tail, the Great Underwater Panther.  Which uses the stars of Leo the lion’s backward question mark as its tail and the small knot of stars that are the head of Hydra the water snake below Cancer as its head.  I imagine this constellation was a warning to youngsters to keep off the thinning ice of spring, lest they fall in and be snatched by the great underwater panther that lives beneath the ice.

Times are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan. They may be different for your location.

Addendum

Ojibwe constellations

An animated GIF rotating between an unannotated star field facing south at 10 p.m. March 16th.; Western constellation names and lines for Orion, Hydra, and Leo; Western constellation art, Ojibwe constellation names and lines; and Ojibwe constellation art. Created using Stellarium. The Ojibwe constellation art is supplied as part of the latest version of Stellarium.  Click on the image to enlarge.

The source for the Ojibwe constellation art is from Ojibwe Sky Star Map Constellation Guide (An introduction to Ojibwe Star Knowledge) by Annette S. Lee, William Wilson, Jeffrey Tibbetts, and Carl Gawboy, ISBN 978-0-615-98678-4.  The illustrations are by Annette S. Lee and William Wilson.  There is also a poster sized star map available.  It should be available in book stores locally, or at Amazon.  I found my copy at Enerdyne in Suttons Bay.

Also shown is the Pleiades, which to the Ojibwe is Hole in the Sky, which has to do with the Shaking Tent Ceremony.  The Pleiades is also known as the Sweating Stones, the heated stones used in the Sweat Lodge Ceremony.  In the later spring sky the Sweat Lodge itself is seen in the stars of the Western Corona Borealis.

Note:  As far as tribe names go:  Ottawa = Odawa, and Chippewa = Ojibwe.

01/27/2017 – Ephemeris – The celestial twins

January 27, 2017 Comments off

Ephemeris for Friday, January 27th.  The Sun will rise at 8:06.  It’ll be up for 9 hours and 38 minutes, setting at 5:44.  The Moon is new today, and won’t be visible.

The constellation Gemini, the Twins is visible high in the southeast at 9 p.m.  The namesake stars of the two lads, will be high on the upper left edge of the constellation, nearly vertically aligned.  Castor is above, while Pollux, a slightly brighter star is below it.  Lines of stars from Castor and Pollux to the lower right delineate the lads.  In Greek mythology Castor and Pollux were twins, and half brothers, Castor was fathered by a mere mortal, while Pollux was fathered by Zeus in the famous Leda and the swan affair.  The brothers, however were inseparable, and when Castor was killed during the quest for the Golden Fleece, Pollux pleaded with Zeus to let him die also.  Zeus granted his wish, so both appear in the sky together forever.

Times are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan. They may be different for your location.

Addendum

Gemini

Gemini revealed by animation. Created using Stellarium and GIMP.

12/16/2016 – Ephemeris – The Pleiades in the mythology of many cultures

December 16, 2016 Comments off

Ephemeris for Friday, December 16th.  The Sun will rise at 8:14.  It’ll be up for 8 hours and 48 minutes, setting at 5:03.  The Moon, 3 days past full, will rise at 8:28 this evening.

Let’s look at how some other cultures saw the Pleiades.  To the Anishinabek 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 some suggested that the appearance of the Pleiades in the morning sky signaled the best sailing weather in the Mediterranean region.

Times are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan. They may be different for your location.

* I originally reported it as Lakota on the program, and earlier as the Sioux.

Addendum

Greek Pleiades

The Greek Pleiades a painting by Elihu Vedder in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City. Public Domain.

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, www.nps.gov/deto

Categories: Constellations, Mythology Tags:

12/15/2015 – Ephemeris – The Seven Sisters of the Pleiades

December 14, 2016 Comments off

Ephemeris for Thursday, December 15th.  The Sun will rise at 8:13.  It’ll be up for 8 hours and 49 minutes, setting at 5:02.  The Moon, 2 days past full, will rise at 7:21 this evening.

While I’ve mentioned the Pleiades with regard to its neighboring stars and constellations several times this autumn I haven’t looked at this beautiful star cluster itself.  The Pleiades appears as a  group of six or seven stars visible to the naked eye, of over a hundred stars, and is also known as the Seven Sisters.  Some also mistake it for the Little Dipper, due to the little bowl shape in the center of the cluster.  I call it the “tiny dipper”.  The real Little Dipper is now hanging off Polaris in the north.  There are a lot of stories about the Pleiades from many different cultures.  From the Greek and Roman cultures we get our best known stories of them, that the seven sisters were the daughters of the god Atlas and Pleione.  The 9 brightest stars bear the names of the sisters and their parents.

Times are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan. They may be different for your location.

Addendum

Hyades and Pleiades

The Pleiades (right) and the Hyades, the face of Taurus the bull (left) in this photograph I took 11:23 p.m. January 4, 2016.

Named Pleiads

The named stars of the Pleiades. This is also showing more stars than can be seen with the naked eye. This is the number of stars that can be seen in binoculars, which is the best way to observe them. Most telescopes offer too much magnification to fit all the stars in. A thirty power wide angle eyepiece can just fit all the stars in. Created using Stellarium.  Note that this view is the orientation of the cluster at 8p.m. tonight.

 

10/20/2016 – Ephemeris – Perseus: Is it a hero or a chicken?

October 20, 2016 Comments off

Ephemeris for Thursday, October 20th.  The Sun will rise at 8:05.  It’ll be up for 10 hours and 43 minutes, setting at 6:48.  The Moon, 2 days before last quarter, will rise at 10:54 this evening.

Positioned below the W shaped constellation of Cassiopeia half way up the sky in the northeast at 9 p.m. is the constellation of Perseus the hero of Greek myth who slew Medusa and rescued and married Andromeda represented in the constellation above and right of him.  Rather than a hero the star pattern seems to look like a chicken or perhaps Big Bird.  At least, that’s how I see it.  In the back of the chicken is its brightest star Mirfak (Mirphak).  Binoculars will show a beautiful group of stars near Mirfak just below unaided eye visibility called the Alpha Persei Association.  Tomorrow morning will see the peak of the Orionid meteor shower, though all but the brightest meteors will be overwhelmed by waning gibbous Moon.

Times are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan. They may be different for your location.

Addendum

Perseus with Cassiopeia and Andromeda in the northeast at 9 p.m. October 20, 2016. Created using Stellarium and GIMP

Perseus with Cassiopeia and Andromeda in the northeast at 9 p.m. October 20, 2016. Created using Stellarium and GIMP.

10/04/2016 – Ephemeris – Celestial dolphin and Cupid’s arrow

October 4, 2016 Comments off

Ephemeris for Tuesday, October 4th.  The Sun will rise at 7:45.  It’ll be up for 11 hours and 31 minutes, setting at 7:16.  The Moon, 4 days past new, will set at 9:28 this evening.

There’s two small constellations I’ve overlooked in the heat of Summer.  Located above the southernmost star of the Summer Triangle of three of the brightest stars in the sky, which is nearly overhead at 9 p.m., is the tiny constellation of Delphinus the dolphin, which is seen high in the south.  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.  There’s another tiny constellation to the right of Delphinus, Sagitta the arrow, which represents Cupid’s dart.

Times are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan. They may be different for your location.

Addendum

Delphinus and Sagitta

Delphinus and Sagitta seen in an animation showing them without captions, with stick constellations, labeled, and as an artist sees them. Created using Stellarium.

09/27/2016 – Ephemeris – The princess Pegasus helped save

September 27, 2016 Comments off

Ephemeris for Tuesday, September 27th.  The Sun will rise at 7:36.  It’ll be up for 11 hours and 53 minutes, setting at 7:29.  The Moon, 3 days before new, will rise at 5:08 tomorrow morning.

In the east at 9 this evening can be found a large square of stars standing on one corner, the Great Square of Pegasus the flying horse.  What look like its hind legs stretching to the left from the left corner star is another constellation, Andromeda the chained princess.  She is seen in the sky as two diverging upward curving strings of three stars each.  She was rescued by the hero Perseus, a nearby constellation, riding Pegasus.  Andromeda’s claim to astronomical fame is the large galaxy seen with the unaided eye just above the upper line of stars, the Great Andromeda Galaxy, 2.5 million light years away.  To the unaided eye the galaxy appears as a small smudge of light.  In binoculars the galaxy is a delicate spindle of light.

Times are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan. They may be different for your location.

Addendum

Andromeda, Pegasus and Perseus

Andromeda, Pegasus and Perseus in the east. Created using Stellarium.

I added some constellation lines to Andromeda since yesterday to match the transcript and how I see her.  Looks like I have some work to do with Perseus, before I talk about him later on.  He doesn’t look like a chicken enough.  I’m going for laughs here.

Andromeda. Pegasus and Perseus in art

Andromeda. Pegasus and Perseus in the east. Created using Stellarium, art by Johan Meuris.