astronomy

https://skyandtelescope.org/astronomy-news/watch-moon-winter-hexagon/

The Queen of the Moon can be seen wandering through her snowflake palace this week when she dons her gibbous gown and passes through the asterism of the Winter Hexagon. There are six first-magnitude stars here setting a terrific stage for her to cast her snowflakes from on high, including among them our brightest star, Sirius.


Nearly 50 years ago this month, the Soviet Venera Mission approached the planet Venus and later landed there, sending back the first color images of the planet’s surface, unveiling the goddess of love and beauty for a new generation of poets and dreamers.

This week on Thursday, February 11, we arrive at the time of the New Moon, or the  “Neomēniá,” which is a term used to describe both the festival of the Moon or simply the beginning of the lunar month.

When We're Halfway: this week on the Storyteller's Night Sky

Feb 1, 2021

This week we come to Winter’s Cross Quarter Day, which means we’re halfway through the season, so does that mean the warmth is already returning? 

The Wolf Moon occurs this week on Thursday, January 28th, so I’d like to talk about the spiritual mystery of what I’ll call a “wolf initiation” as it can be imagined through the Russian fairy tale of the Firebird.


Mars meets Uranus during the first quarter Moon on Wednesday, January 20th, and though we usually describe the planets in relation to the zodiac, I want to talk about the stars lying beneath them right now, which are those of Cetus, the whale, a seemingly unremarkable patch of sky that is related by ancient astrology to impulses arising from the collective unconscious, impulses that are either of great insight, or of chaos.


The first New Moon of the New Year happens this week, overnight Tuesday to Wednesday, but not before shedding its old light into the lap of love as a way to make ready for what lies ahead.


Every New Year begins with the Earth making its closest approach to the Sun, and with a meteor shower of a now-defunct constellation. For me, this is the perfect set up for wandering into the new with the poets among the stars. And here’s why.    


Hindsight is 2020: this week on the Storyteller's Night Sky

Dec 28, 2020

By Friday this week we’ll all be able to look back with hindsight on 2020, and in the world of the Storyteller’s Night Sky, that means looking at what the planets and stars have been up to.

It’s the still time of the year. Sun and Moon have had their last meeting and it was exact, causing a total solar eclipse. Jupiter and Saturn come to their great conjunction today, December 21st, and it’s exact, their closest approach to one another since the 1600s. Venus watches over the gate of dawn; Mars guards us through the night.


The moment of Winter Solstice arrives Monday morning, December 21st, when the Sun seems to rest in quiet stillness, waiting for the Earth to complete its seasonal in-breath. Through every age of humanity, this has been observed as one of the most sacred moments of the year, and when we add to it the fact that this year, the two largest planets in our system will come to their once-every-20-years Great Conjunction on the same day, then it starts to seem like we’re being given a divine clue.

The biggest news this month is the Great Conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn that comes at Winter Solstice, but we shouldn’t overlook next week’s Total Solar Eclipse, even though it won’t be visible to us in North America. The mystery of this eclipse at this time is still important in the unfolding narrative of 2020, which is now in its final chapter.


There was an eclipse in the early hours of this Monday morning, when the Moon came to Full Phase among the stars of Taurus and slipped into the outer edge of Earth’s shadow, which begs the question astrologically: which is easier to deal with, a full shadow, like at total eclipse; or the barest hint of shadow, like this one?

In many traditions, this last full week of November draws to a close the season of honoring loved ones who have died, and now ceremonial tradition turns toward the celebration of light that comes at the darkest time of year with Winter Solstice, next month.

There are three active meteor showers remaining for 2020, bringing the magic of more celestial light to the sky while greater darkness settles in across the northern hemisphere.

In the medieval legend of Parzival, the hero comes to be known as the Red Knight, so this week, we’ll consider him Mars. He also has several significant encounters with his cousin, Sigune, whom we’ll consider Venus. This week, the two of them are dramatically opposed in the starry heaven, with Venus/Sigune as morning star in the East, opposing Parzival/Mars in the West, where he will be setting as she rises.

The Moon is carving an interesting path through the sky this week, calling to mind a significant event in history, both in the Christian world and in the world of astronomy. Image detail from Abram's Planetarium Sky Calendar. Edit | Remove

So it’s election week in the United States, and what, you may ask, are the stars doing? For me, it’s not so much what they portend, but what they call to mind from the past.

With a Blue Moon at Halloween, followed by a Friday the 13th next month and a Total Solar Eclipse after that, it’s time to take a look at cultural superstitions in relation to the stars.

The meteor shower of the giant Orion peaks overnight this week, especially in the early morning hours of October 21st, so let’s take a look at what’s tucked in here.

As a star lore historian, my work is about trying to find the stories in the stars each week. So after looking at star maps and watching sunsets and moonrises, I look at ancient mythologies or astrological traditions, sometimes it’s the results of scientific research that get stirred up in my thinking about how to find the story in what’s going on, but over the years I’ve realized that, all of this is about trying to read the phenomena themselves. 

On Tuesday the planet Mars will be closer to us than it will be for another 15 years, so the question is: will we be inspired by the red planet’s genius or its demon?

The Harvest Moon rises Thursday, October 1st, and this year, it’s the first Full Moon of Autumn, and the first to appear above the celestial equator. This matters for us in the Northern Hemisphere because it means that from now until Spring, we will experience more moonlight than sunlight.

The Autumn Equinox occurs at 9:31 am on Tuesday the 22nd, but it’s what happens in the aftermath that’s drawing my attention this week, because of its relationship to the threefold mystery of being human.

When the stars were regarded as divine spiritual beings, or rather the outer vestments of such beings, then it was understood that each month, in its journey through the sky, the Moon would have an encounter with these beings. As such, the Moon was regarded as the coordinator of the festival cycles of the year, for the Moon was the gateway between the earthly/physical and the celestial/spiritual worlds, which are being celebrated in such festivals.

As we turn toward the final weeks of the season, my imagination as a star lore historian turns to the German folk tale of the mischievous gnome Rübezahl, who sought to entrap Summer’s beautiful princess and keep her in his love palace beneath the Earth forever.

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