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Every Monday morning at 6:49 and 8:49, IPR News Radio looks into the night sky with Mary Stewart Adams, former Program Director and founder of the International Dark Sky Park at the Headlands, who has been telling stories of the night sky on IPR since 2013.

After Hours in the Moonlight: this week on the Storyteller's Night Sky

Autumn Skies 11.2021 MSA.JPG

The waxing Crescent Moon has some spectacular encounters this week, beginning with Venus Sunday and Monday, looking west about an hour after sunset, followed by a meet up with Saturn on Wednesday and Jupiter on Thursday.

Here’s what’s so interesting about all of this from my perspective:

We’ve just crossed the halfway point in the season, and in Northern Michigan where I am, the colors have been exceptional, not only because the trees are popping in golds and reds against dramatic skies, but because the leaves have hung on for so long! It’s been my experience that by now, most of the leaves have fallen ~ but not this year.

In many cultures around the world, the early part of November also marks the season for honoring and celebrating loved ones who have died. The mood of these festivals and ceremonies is usually augmented by the waning light and fading color, but this week, we’ve got all this color hanging around, and at the same time, the Moon is being very social, meeting most of the naked eye planets before it even gets to Full Phase next week.

If we follow the sacred traditions of this season further, we also find that this season in the northern hemisphere is the one in which it was believed that the outer gold must become the forces for being inwardly strong and bold. In other words, what we see in the outer light must now become inner strength.

Nine months from now, when we’re moving through our summer dreams, none of the planets will be in the evening sky the way they are right now. So it’s not only for this season that we need the kind of sustenance that comes from nature’s astonishing displays, it’s for next year, too.

Take advantage. Get out in the starlight. When the Moon come to Full Phase next week, it’ll be deeply eclipsed, asking us all whether we have the forces to encounter our shadows.

John Keats' lyric description of the season is on full display this week of the waxing Crescent Moon: "Autumn bold, with universal tinge of sober gold."