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Into the New with Moon and Meteors, Poetry and Stars: This week on The Storyteller's Night Sky

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The Quadrantid Meteor Shower peaks overnight January 3 to 4, while the Moon is a waxing gibbous, dominating the night with its light.

In the Christian world, the holy nights of Christmas culminate this week on the 12th Night, January 5th, followed by the year’s first Full Moon on Friday, January 6th, the Feast of Epiphany, celebrated both as the arrival of the Three Kings to the birth of the Christ Child, and as the date of the Baptism of Jesus of Nazareth.

This first Full Moon of the year occurs among the stars of Gemini, near where the Milky Way crosses through the circle of the zodiac. Since ancient times these Gemini twins have represented the mystery of the human being’s mortal and immortal nature.

This week also brings the first meteor shower of the year, the Quadrantids. This shower takes its name from a now-defunct constellation that was formerly seen near the end of the handle of the Big Dipper, and though the shower will mostly be knocked out by moonlight, it’s still good to know it’s happening!

Then there’s the Earth/Sun relationship, which finds them closest to one another on January 4 ~ over three million miles closer than at the opposite time of year. This is known as the Earth’s perihelion and I imagine that just now, as we move into the first week of the new year with heartfelt intentions toward what’s best, with the culminating mood of the season by the light of the Full Moon, with the year’s first meteor shower and the Earth swinging closest to the Sun, it’s like the natural world is whispering a poem, like this one by Joy Harjo:

Remember the sky you were born under,
Know each of the star’s stories.
Remember the moon, know who she is.
Remember the sun’s birth at dawn, that is the
Strongest point of time. Remember the sundown
and the giving away to night.
Remember your birth…

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.