The Romance of the Stars: this week on the Storyteller's Night Sky

Aug 3, 2020

The constellation Andromeda is home to the closest galaxy to our own Milky Way, which you can find just north of the great square of Pegasus on summer nights, when you're out watching the Perseid meteors fall through the sky.

The Moon comes to Full Phase Monday, August 3rd at noon, then it wanes through the night sky, catching up with Mars next Sunday, before arriving in the vicinity of Venus, our brilliant morning star, later next week.

The August Moons are some of the most romantic of the year, and I like to imagine that the myth of Venus/Aphrodite falling in love with the mortal Anchises from the ancient Greek tradition is being played out overhead right now. In the story, Aphrodite boasts that she’s the most powerful of all the gods because she can make them fall in love with mere mortals, so Zeus uses his power to make her  fall in love with a human being. Of course, the result of Aphrodite’s union with Anchises is not your typical human ~ it’s the mighty hero Aeneas.

But such a match requires a witness, and in this case it’s Selene, the Greek Goddess of the Moon. The Moon was recently in the vicinity of the planet Jupiter, Zeus to the Greeks, so i’s like he gave her the assignment, which she’s now carrying through the night, until she arrives in the vicinity of Venus/Aphrodite at dawn on the 15th.

The reason you want to know about this now is because it takes time to realize you might be caught in a love encounter that’s being cooked up by the gods!

There’s even more summer love under the stars, with the hero Perseus, who saves his beloved Andromeda from the ocean beast Cetus the whale. After Perseus rescues Andromeda, they marry, and live happily ever after.

So while the Moon is waning through the night from Jupiter to Venus over the horizon toward the South, watch for Perseus and his beloved Andromeda rising up over the horizon toward the North, while the Milky Way is arcing highest overhead and we mere mortals begin to wake out of our summer dream.