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Posts Tagged ‘Great Bear’

02/13/2023 – Ephemeris – Follow the Drinking Gourd

February 13, 2023 Comments off

This is Bob Moler with Ephemeris for Monday, February 13th. Today the Sun will be up for 10 hours and 21 minutes, setting at 6:08, and it will rise tomorrow at 7:44. The Moon, at last quarter today, will rise at 2:51 tomorrow morning.

In the decades before the Civil War, runaway slaves would travel, often at night, northward from the slave states in the south to the northern free states and Canada over the metaphorical Underground Railroad following the Drinking Gourd, the Big Dipper as their compass. For millennia, the North Pole of the sky had been passing near the handle of the Big Dipper or bear’s tail. As an amateur astronomer, who loves the dark, starlit skies, I’ve noticed that everyone is the same color in the dark! This year the Grand Traverse Astronomical Society will, once again, team with the Sleeping Bear Dunes for more Sun and star parties.

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

Runaway slaves following the Drinking Gourd

“Follow the Drinking Gourd,” a show at the Virginia Living Museum’s Abbit Planetarium based on Jeanette Winter’s children’s book of the same name, tells the story of a slave family who used the stars to make their way north. Visitors can watch the free show Saturdays in February. (Courtesy of Virginia Living Museum) Via Daily Press, Newport News, VA.

04/28/2022 – Ephemeris – The story of Arcas and Callisto

April 28, 2022 Comments off

This is Bob Moler with Ephemeris for Thursday, April 28th. Today the Sun will be up for 14 hours and 6 minutes, setting at 8:44, and it will rise tomorrow at 6:35. The Moon, 2 days before new, will rise at 6:16 tomorrow morning.

Appearing in the eastern sky 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 which is horizontal to the left, pointed to by the arc of the handle of the Big Dipper, higher in the east. The Big Dipper is the hind end of the constellation Ursa Major, the Great Bear. In one story, Boötes represents a young hunter named Arcas, son of Callisto, a beautiful young woman who had the misfortune of being loved by god Zeus. Zeus’ wife, Hera, found out about the affair, and since she couldn’t punish Zeus, turned the poor woman into a bear. Arcas, many years later, unaware of why his mother disappeared, was about to kill the bear when Zeus intervened and placed them both in the sky, where he continues to chase her across the sky nightly.

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

Arcas and Callisto

Boötes 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

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.

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.

03/11/2021 – Ephemeris – The Guardian of the Bear is rising

March 11, 2021 Comments off

This is Ephemeris for Thursday, March 11th. Today the Sun will be up for 11 hours and 42 minutes, setting at 6:44, and it will rise tomorrow at 7:00. The Moon, 2 days before new, will rise at 7:09 tomorrow morning.

The brightest star of spring is Arcturus which will be visible by 9 pm low in the east-northeast. Arcturus can most famously be found by following the arc of the handle of the Big Dipper, which resides fairly high in the northeastern sky to it. “Follow the arc of the handle to Arcturus.” It’s the fourth or fifth brightest star in the sky, depending on the list. It was regarded as the “Guardian of the Bear”, meaning the Great Bear, Ursa Major, of which the Big Dipper is its hind end. Apparently it’s guarding its rear. Arcturus will stay in our evening sky until the end of summer and has a fascinating story of its own aside from its ancient mythology, which I’ll talk about when it’s higher in the sky. It’s located at the base of a kite shaped constellation called Boötes, which is now horizontal and too close to the horizon to be appreciated.

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

Addendum

Arcturus rising finder animation

Arcturus rising finder animation for 9 pm tonight, March 11, 2021. Created using Stellarium and GIMP.

04/10/2010 – Ephemeris – The constellations of Ursa Major and Ojiig

April 10, 2020 Comments off

This is Ephemeris for Good Friday, Friday, April 10th. Today the Sun will be up for 13 hours and 15 minutes, setting at 8:22, and it will rise tomorrow at 7:04. The Moon, 3 days past full, will rise at 11:54 this evening.

The constellation of Ursa Major, or great bear was well-known to the ancient Greeks and Native Americans. Today, however, many of us can recognize only part of it as the Big Dipper. The whole bear can be easily seen only in a dark sky, at 10 p.m. it’s high in the northeast with feet to the south. The stars in front of the bowl are the front part of his body and head. The bowl of the Big Dipper is his rump, and the handle his long tail. The Native Americans, saw those three stars as three hunters following the bear. The tribes of the Great Lakes region saw it as the Fisher or Ojiig , who brought summer to the Earth. These stars here do make a convincing bear, except for the tail, when seen on a dark night. The weasel-like Fisher fits the stars completely.

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

Addendum

The Great Bear and the Fisher

The Big Dipper/Great Bear/Fisher as seen by western and Anishinaabe people. Created using Stellarium and GIMP.

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.

Here’s the story of how the Fisher brought summer to the Earth:  https://bobmoler.wordpress.com/2012/10/11/the-story-of-the-fisher-star/

04/25/2019 – Ephemeris – About Ursa Major

April 25, 2019 Comments off

Ephemeris for Thursday, April 25th. Today the Sun will be up for 13 hours and 57 minutes, setting at 8:40, and it will rise tomorrow at 6:40. The Moon, 1 day before last quarter, will rise at 3:01 tomorrow morning.

The Big Dipper has many names to many peoples and countries around the world. Officially to the International Astronomical Union, it’s part of Ursa Major, the Great Bear, also recognized by many Native Americans, and Europeans. It’s even in the Bible. In the Book of Job the star Arcturus is a miss-translation. Arcturus means Guardian of the Bear. It should be the Bear itself, and most modern translations catch that mistake. Anyway, the Anishinaabe people around the Great Lakes say the stars of the bear are that of another creature, that of the Fisher, Ojiig, a mammal of the weasel family that brought summer to the Earth, and now heralds the seasons by his position in the sky.

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

Addendum

Ursa Major andOjiig animation

An animation to visualize the Great Bear, Ursa Major and the Fisher, Ojiig, from the stars of and around the Big Dipper. Created using Stellarium.

10/17/2017 – Ephemeris – The Fisher paints the autumn leaves red

October 17, 2017 1 comment

Ephemeris for Tuesday, October 17th. The Sun will rise at 8:00. It’ll be up for 10 hours and 53 minutes, setting at 6:54. The Moon, 2 days before new, will rise at 6:35 tomorrow morning.

This morning, if it’s clear the red planet Mars will appear just to the right of the thin crescent Moon. Mars isn’t the only thing that’s red now. So are the maple leaves as we advance into autumn. The native Anishinaabek peoples have a story about how that came to be. Of how a magical weasel-like creature called the Fisher or 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 the Great Spirit, Manitou caught him and placed him in the sky where we see the Great Bear (Ursa Major) and the Big Dipper. Every autumn we see his tail swoop down to the ground where his tail paints the leaves red with his blood.

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

Addenda

The Moon and the morning planets this morning

The Mon with the morning planets

The Moon and Mars at 6:30 this morning October 17, 2017. Click on image to enlarge. Created using Stellarium.

At 00:21 UTC on the 18th Venus will be south of the Moon.  It will be visible from Asia.

The Fisher (Ojiig) paints the trees with the autumn colors

Autumn colors

Autumn colors. My image.

Fisher brushing his tail along the horizon

An animation of Fisher brushing his tail along the horizon on autumn nights. Click on image to enlarge. Created using Stellarium.

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

See the version of the story I learned:  The story of the Fisher Star.

There are other variations of the story, and other adventures of the Fisher.  Perform an Internet search for: Fisher or Fisher Star or Ojiig.

 

 

 

03/15/2016 – Ephemeris – Spotting the celestial Horse and Rider

March 15, 2016 Comments off

Ephemeris for, the Ides of March, Tuesday, March 15th.  The Sun will rise at 7:54.  It’ll be up for 11 hours and 55 minutes, setting at 7:49.   The Moon, at first quarter today, will set at 3:36 tomorrow morning.

In the handle of te Big Dipper rising high in the east northeast is an easily seen double star.  It’s the star second from the end of the handle where it makes a bend.  The bright star is Mizar.  It has a dim companion star that folks with good eyesight can easily spot, named Alcor.  The Arabs of old, before optometrists used the pair as an eye test.  I would have failed.  Even with my glasses on I can’t spot Alcor.  I must resort to binoculars.  The pair is known as the Horse and Rider, while the indigenous peoples of North America, see the stars of the handle of the Big Dipper not as the great Bear’s tail, but hunters following the bear.  In this case Alcor is either a hunting dog, or a cooking pot to cook the bear in.

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

Addendum

 

Big Dipper

The Big Dipper, part of Ursa Major the Great Bear, is poised on its handle in the northeast. Can you spot Alcor? Created using Stellarium.

Mizar and Alcor

A closeup view of Mizar and Alcor and a dimmer star that lies in the background. Created using Stellarium.

A telescope with low power will also split Mizar intro a bright and dim companion named Mizar A and Mizar B.  By observing Mizar A, B and Alcor have determined that all three are binary.  There’s six stars there.

04/22/2014 – Ephemeris – The Great Bear and the Fisher Star

April 22, 2014 Comments off

Ephemeris for Earth Day, Tuesday, April 22nd.  The sun rises at 6:46.  It’ll be up for 13 hours and 49 minutes, setting at 8:36.   The moon, at last quarter today, will rise at 3:31 tomorrow morning.

This evening the Big Dipper is practically overhead.  The Europeans and some Native Americans say it as the hind end of a bear with dimmer stars making up the rest of the bear.  The official constellation of which the Big dipper is a part is Ursa Major, the Great Bear.  The native Americans were smart enough to depict the handle stars of the dipper as three hunters following the bear, rather than the bear’s unnaturally long tail.  The Anishinabek Indians who settled around here saw instead of a bear a weasel like creature, who did have a long tail called Fisher or Fisher Star, who through a great adventure, with his other animal friends, brought summer and the rest of the seasons to the frozen earth.

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

Addendum

Great Bear

The Great Bear as the Europeans saw it. Created using Stellarium.

The Fisher Star.

The Fisher Star. Created using Stellarium.