mary stewart adams

If you live in Michigan, then most likely you’re aware that on Mackinac Island, the main transportation asset is the horse, and every year in June, during the island’s lilac festival, there’s a blessing of the horses that takes place. This blessing is rooted in the 3rd century Gallo-Roman feast of Epona, goddess protector of horses and fertility. What’s interesting to me is that in addition to her feast day in June, Epona also enjoys a festival every year in December, on the 18th.

Throughout 2017, the planet Venus has been the guardian goddess of the dawn. But now that we approach the darkest time of year, this goddess, also the goddess of love and beauty has disappeared from view. Does this mean we have to live without love for a spell? The news of the day can certainly make it seem that way. But there’s a deeper mystery written in the sky right now, and it’s here we should cast our imaginations.

Every once in awhile we arrive at a week of celestial superlatives, and this week that straddles the end of November and beginning of December is just such a one. Mercury has recently moved as far away from the Sun it can get, just as the star that marks the Bull’s Eye comes to opposition, and the Moon comes to Full Phase closer to the Earth than any other Full Moon of 2017. What can we make of such a configuration?

It’s Thanksgiving week in America, so it’s time to ask whether there is an obvious festival of gratitude expressed in the stars that are overhead in this season?

One of the most brilliant stars in the sky right now is Capella, in the constellation Auriga, the charioteer, which is visible in the northeast at about 8 pm each night. 

Like a scene out of the Celtic Wonder Tales, the morning sky this week takes on the appearance of a gathering of the wise beings that created the world, come together to await the noble deeds of human beings.

There’s a consistent wisdom in the world of fairy tales that weaves through every culture, and it’s this: what you put into the world will come back to you, filled with the goodness, truth, beauty, or negativity, that you put into it. So how are the stars involved in this?

Ditties in the sky: This week on the Storyteller's Night Sky

Oct 30, 2017

The Milky Way can be seen arcing straight overhead in November, where we find the constellation Cassiopeia, the queen, nearly at the zenith.

“In folklore, angels tickle harps and the Devil plays the violin. So it is hardly surprising that extraordinary musical ability in mere mortals has long been explained by way of heavenly blessings or, more frequently, dark pacts…” So begins the tale of “The Dark Fiddler ~ The Life and Legend of Nicolo Paganini”.

I recently took my stories of the stars to Davenport, Iowa, and while I was there, I visited the Figge Museum downtown, where there was a fabulous exhibit of the art of Gary Kelley, for his book on the notorious 18th century Italian violinist Paganini.

The monarch butterfly migration has been terrific this year, so I’ve been researching stories and constellations to see if I could find some way to tie the migration into “The Storyteller’s Night Sky”, but try as I might, there’s nothing specific.

The Harvest Moon occurs this week, when the Moon comes to Full Phase at 2:41 pm on Thursday, October 5th and begs the question: Why do we dance at Harvest, and is there an answer in the stars?

Last week there was a lot of chatter about the configuration of Sun, Moon and planets triggering biblical prophecy. So, what was that all about?

The set up was Sun and Moon in the constellation Virgo, with the three planets Venus, Mars and Mercury in Leo.

After the drama of causing last month’s Total Solar Eclipse, the Moon wanes out of sight in the morning sky this week, and comes to New Phase on Wednesday, just two days before Autumn Equinox, when Sun and Earth achieve their twice-each-year seasonal balance, and day and night are equal in length.

Even though the date of Equinox is determined by the relationship between Earth and Sun, the mood of the season is very much determined by the Moon. 

The big news in the sky this week is all about Cassini, the spacecraft that will plunge into Saturn on Friday, after 20 years of fascinating voyage and discovery.

The Cassini spacecraft was named for Giovanni Domenico Cassini, the 17th century Italian astronomer who discovered four of Saturn’s moons and the division of Saturn’s rings, all at a time when the concept of the Earth orbiting the Sun was still stirring up trouble. 

In the aftermath of the Great American Eclipse, the moving Moon goes up the sky, as though merely fulfilling its routine tasks, meeting and greeting all the planets and stars. And though the eclipse is over now, I like to think we can feel it still.

More than half of the Summer has now passed,  and there’s a deep mystery that presents itself each year at this time.

We’re just about seven weeks from Summer Solstice,  and in the cycle of the plant kingdom, now is the time when we can tell whether the blossoms that were offered up to the Sun at its highest hour were well-received. We can tell this in the nature of the harvest.

This week marks the onset of the eclipse season, with an eclipse of the Full Moon on Monday that’s not visible in the US, followed two weeks later by the Solar Eclipse that will be visible either totally or partially throughout the entire US.

Did you know that meteor showers take their names from the constellations, even though they’re caused by comets? It’s an interesting practice that’s rooted in a time when it was not understood that comets are the cause for the meteors that fall through our skies. This way of naming can inadvertently keep comet discoverers hidden. But not this week!

The Moon and Venus will strike a remarkable pose this week on Thursday, July 20th, when they grace the morning sky in the east an hour before sunrise.

 


 

If you only know the story of “Beauty and the Beast” by the movies, then you may want to revisit the tale in its original form this week, when the morning sky challenges us to see whether we’re judging things based solely on appearances.

 

Nature's fireworks: this week on the Storyteller's Night Sky

Jul 3, 2017

The goddess and love and beauty graces the morning sky all season, leaving the fireworks to the evening sky, where the father and son gas giants dominate the night.

These two giants are Jupiter and Saturn, the largest and furthest visible to us with the naked eye of all the planets in our system. 

On Friday this week, the waxing crescent Moon will sweep over the star gamma virginis in the constellation Virgo with Jupiter standing by, south of the Moon where the star Spica is at its back. This is a beautiful sight and it triggers one of the most famous legendary elements of Roman history.

The gamma star in Virgo is named Porrima, for a goddess of prophecy. Porrima was one of many types of female oracles that populated the ancient world, which included among them the sibyls.

The cycle of the year is like a breathing process for the Earth, with the full in breath completing at Winter Solstice, and the full out breath completing at Summer Solstice, which happens this week on Wednesday. And if we imagine ourselves to be involved in this process, then right now is the time to ask: what are we breathing out into cosmic spaces with the Earth this year?

The starry roots of why June is ideal for getting married are being spectacularly written across the sky this month, and I’d like to share them for this week’s “Storyteller’s Night Sky.” 

This week the Moon comes to Full Phase, and because it’s the farthest away and smallest Full Moon of the year, I’ll call it the “Thumbelina Moon”.

 

The exact Full Moon moment is 9:10 am on Friday, June 9th, which is about 15 hours after it has reached the place on its orbital path that is farthest away from the Earth. This is called “apogee”, which means, literally, “off earth distance.”

 

This week the crescent Moon will lead the way to the place among the stars where the Great American Solar Eclipse is going to happen, and since the stars can become visible when the Sun is eclipsed, now is a good time to get out and learn your way around this region of the sky.

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