The Storyteller's Night Sky

After the Full Harvest Moon Monday night, the Moon spends the rest of the week waning through its gibbous phase. “Gibbous” is the term we use to describe the phenomena of light on the Moon’s surface, when it makes the Moon appear convex on both edges, as opposed to one edge being concave, like at crescent phase. So what’s so unique about this now?

This month marks the 172nd anniversary of the discovery of Neptune, the only planet in our system that can’t be seen with the naked eye, and this week, it comes to its annual opposition with the Sun.

The planet Venus moves close to the star Spica this week, where the star is held in the arms of Virgo, the maiden. What can it mean?

 


On Sunday the planet Mercury completed its retrograde and resumed its direct, or eastward motion. This coming weekend, the planet Mars will do the same thing when it completes its apparent retrograde.

 


After last Saturday’s New Moon, we entered the sacred sequence of days leading up to the 7th Night of the 7th Moon in the Chinese tradition, which brings us to the portal between the worlds. 

The Qixi Festival is celebrated during the most romantic time of the year, when the Crescent Moon sweeps across the western horizon toward the thickest part of the Milky Way.

The story I really want to tell this week is about the early 20th century American socialite and art collector Isabella Stewart Gardner, so I’m going to try to connect it to what’s happening in the stars! 

 

Isabella Stewart Gardner was known as a brilliant and unconventional patron of the arts, and this week marks the 94th anniversary of her death on July 17, in 1924, at the age of 84.

 

There’s something unique happening this week just after the Sun stands still at its Solstice moment early Thursday morning: Venus and Mars will fall into position on opposite sides of the Earth, drawing our attention to the great mystery of understanding the beloved.

 

 


The Godiva moon: This week on the Storyteller's Night Sky

May 28, 2018
Sky and Telescope

 

In 1678, the Godiva Procession was instituted in Coventry, England to commemorate and honor Lady Godiva, who rode naked on horseback through the main street to protest her husband’s intent to raise taxes on the poor. Nearly 200 years later, in 1842, Alfred Tennyson found himself waiting on a train in Coventry and penned his iconic poem about it, which we can imagine is being written across the evening sky this week as the moon comes to full phase and sweeps past the outer planets Jupiter, Saturn and Mars. 

MSA

Venus has recently returned to the evening sky, and this week on Friday, the goddess of love and beauty moves across the celestial equator and is restored to the northern celestial hemisphere, just in time for all the spring festivals of renewal.

 

 

 


MSA

This week brings the first New Moon of the year, on Tuesday, and right along with it the coldest ~ and darkest ~ nights of the year.

 

If you get all bundled up to go out and look at the evening sky, you’ll find Orion, the winter maker, striding on through the stars in the south. In the morning sky, you’ll find the planets Jupiter and Mars in the east. Mars is getting ready to make its closest approach to Earth since 2003 later this year.

MSA

 

The moon takes center stage here at the start of 2018, dusting off the remains of last year by coming to its closest or “Super Moon” full phase on New Year’s Day. The moon will race on to its next full phase again before January is even over. And you better make ready, because if you miss January 1st's full moon, you won’t see another one until March! That’s because January has two full moons this year, and the next one will be totally eclipsed. Then there’s no full moon in February.

Like a scene out of the Celtic Wonder Tales, the morning sky this week takes on the appearance of a gathering of the wise beings that created the world, come together to await the noble deeds of human beings.

There’s a consistent wisdom in the world of fairy tales that weaves through every culture, and it’s this: what you put into the world will come back to you, filled with the goodness, truth, beauty, or negativity, that you put into it. So how are the stars involved in this?

 

This week’s Full Moon is not the Harvest Moon. Harvest Moon is the name given to the Full Moon closest to Autumn Equinox, and this year, that Moon will happen in October. So what becomes of September’s ull Moon when it’s not Harvest Moon? 

 

In some traditions, the September Full Moon is then known as the Wine Moon. This Moon will come to Full Phase at 3 a.m. on Wednesday, September 6.

So why Wine Moon? This may be connected to the region of the sky that’s settling into the horizon after sunset at this time. 

The Moon and Venus will strike a remarkable pose this week on Thursday, July 20th, when they grace the morning sky in the east an hour before sunrise.

 


 

Recently my sister sent me a picture of Giovanni Battista Tiepolo’s 18th century masterpiece “Allegory of the Planets and Continents”, which shows the Ancient Greek Sun god Apollo, about to embark on his daily trek across the sky. Since the Sun is about to make its annual return to the northern hemisphere, I thought I’d look into a few of the names given to the Sun. 

Did you know that there’s not always a Full Moon in February, and that only once every ten years can the February Full Moon be eclipsed? 

Next year, there will be no Full Moon in the month of February, and this year, the Full Moon, which comes this Friday, the 10th, will move through the outer edge of Earth’s shadow, causing what’s called a “penumbral eclipse.”

 


We’re nearly halfway through the season of winter this week, and the Moon is lifting the veil on a significant moment in the romantic narrative that’s been playing out over the western horizon for several months now…

On Sunday Mars crossed the celestial equator, which is the spot that marks the point of Vernal Equinox. This means we can imagine that Mars has emerged into the upper world.

There are some fascinating differences between Chinese and Western astrological traditions, and since Friday’s New Moon inaugurates the Chinese New Year of the Rooster, it’s a good time to consider those differences.

Tradition holds that the coldest night of the year will happen this week Friday, January 20th, which is known as the “Eve of St. Agnes.”

The meteor shower season continues this week with the peak of the Orionid overnight Friday to Saturday, and since Autumn is also the season for celebrating the dead, here’s an ancient myth to keep you entertained while you’re out wishing on the falling stars.

 


 

A lot has happened in the world since the goddess of love and beauty disappeared from view last March, and this week she’s welcomed back to the stage of the sky as evening star.

The goddess of love and beauty is the planet Venus and she was born out of the foaming waters of the sea. 

This week, Venus will emerge in the evening sky in the west, in front of the constellation Cancer, the crab.

The star-spangled oak at Headlands International Dark Sky Park Edit | Remove

Summer is upon us and the Moon will be a beautiful crescent moving up the sky from the western horizon this week. But did you know that today July 4 the Earth is as far away from the Sun as it can get on its orbital path?

Constellation-hopping is one of the ways you can find your way around the night sky, and this week it can help you to the radiant, or center point of an early summer meteor shower, called the Boötids.

The Boötids take their name from the constellation Boötes, the herdsman, and even though the falling stars don’t really come from the constellation itself, this kind of naming practice makes for some great storytelling.

So what story can we find in the Boötes region of the sky that might suggest that the meteor shower is his gift to humanity?


Finding your inner hero: this week on The Dark Sky

Jun 20, 2016

Today, June 20th, is Summer Solstice, when the Sun reaches its highest place above the Celestial Equator. Today the Moon also comes to full phase, and because this happens opposite the Sun, it means that today the Moon is at the lowest point, in the region of the sky where we find our galactic center.

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