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The Stars That Witness Our Becoming: This week on The Storyteller's Night Sky

The six stars that make up the Winter Hexagon. The asterism can be seen in northern Michigan in December. It will rise in the east just after sunset.

There’s a beautiful asterism that rises up in the East after sunset every year in December, described by astronomers as the Winter Hexagon. A hexagon is a six-sided geometric form, and in the starry regions it can be imagined by linking the brightest stars together: Sirius, Rigel, Aldebaran, Capella, Pollux, and Procyon. Each of these stars has a terrific cultural tale on their own, and when they’re combined, a beautiful narrative presents itself, one that belongs to the sacred mystery of this season, to the birth of inner light on the year’s darkest night.

The brightest star in the hexagon is Sirius, easily discernible because of its brightness, and also because the night sky’s most famous asterism, the belt of Orion, points directly to it. Though the three stars of Orion’s belt are not part of the Winter Hexagon, they lend themselves to the story of the Three Kings, following the star in the East, part of a sign to them that an unprecedented birth is about to happen.

Then there’s Procyon, which is part of the Winter Hexagon. Its name means “before the shining one,” a reference to Sirius. So Procyon is like a herald, also announcing the rising up of auspicious times.

Of course, the Winter Hexagon rises up every year in this season, as it has for thousands of years. Ours is to discern what else is occurring in the starry script, and in our lives on Earth, that reveals what we would “bring to birth” on the darkest night of the year, when these glittering witnesses of our becoming mount up into the night.

…like the Three Kings, come to the eternal birth of our love… to borrow from Juan Ramon Jimenez.

Mary Stewart Adams is a Star Lore Historian and host of “The Storyteller’s Night Sky.” As a global advocate for starry skies, Mary led the team that established the 9th International Dark Sky Park in the world in 2011, which later led to her home state of Michigan protecting 35,000 acres of state land for its natural darkness.