Stargazing

Practicing my stargazing.

The crescent moon, a Cheshire-cat smile, low on the western horizon.

Orion’s belt drifting in the southeast, and more easterly, a giant elongated isosceles triangle, point toward Orion. Orion appears on its side.

orion.jpg

This is roughly how it appeared in the sky.

Going clockwise, starting with the red-hued star, we have Betelgeuse, Bellatrix, Rigel, and Saiph. The stars of the belt, starting with the top, are called Mintaka, Alnilam, and Alnitak.

All of these names are Arabic in origin. The name of Orion, the hunter, is Greek. As the lore goes, Orion proclaimed that he would kill all of Earth’s animals. Gaia saw it fit to have Scorpio kill Orion as a preventive measure.

Reputedly, the Egyptians saw this constellation as the dwelling-place of Osiris, after he was slain by his brother Set and was resurrected. The Navajo referred to this group of stars as “First Slim One,” keeper of the months.

I think there is value to gardening by the moon and the stars, but I do not know what is the basis of this system, with its own internal logic, which may or may not mesh with the rational, empirical ways of navigating reality. I do not know the extent of the influence that the celestial bodies exert on us and our lives, and on the plants. But I do know that, before our distant ancestors harnessed fire and electricity, these were the main source of light at night. And my own sense of logic tells me that, just as the moon influences the rise and fall of the ocean’s tides, just as the light from the sun makes all life possible on Earth, certainly all of the heavenly bodies have their own influence on terrestrial phenomena, however infinitesimal they may be.

I’ll leave you with lines from a poem by Longfellow:

Begirt with many a blazing star,
Stood the great giant Algebar,

Orion, hunter of the beast!
His sword hung gleaming by his side,
And on his arm, the lion’s hide
Scattered across the midnight air
The golden radiance of its hair.


Sources:

del Chamberlain, Von. Orion: your personal guide to the stars. From Project Astro Utah, the Clarke Foundation. Accessed: 1/19/18. http://www.clarkfoundation.org/astro-utah/vondel/slimone.html  via web.archive.org (site no longer accessible)

Longfellow, H.W. “The Occultation of Orion.”

Magruder, Kerry. “Orion.” Basic celestial phenomena. Accessed: 1/19/18. http://homepage.mac.com:80/kvmagruder/bcp/aster/constellations/Ori.htm via web.archive.com (site no longer accessible).

Nemiroff, R. & Bonnell, J. (2010) “Astronomy picture of the day: Orion: head to toe.” NASA. https://apod.nasa.gov/apod/ap101023.html

orion

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