Holland Sentinel

What’s Up in the Sky: Mythology can enhance our appreciation of the sky – Entertainment & Life – Holland Sentinel

June marks the starting of summer time, a time when many of us discover alternatives to lastly do some observing. Whether you’re tenting, visiting pals in the Upper Peninsula or simply stress-free in the again yard, the stars and constellations can be loved from nearly any vantage level. But even in case you are considerably conversant in the summer time constellations, a rudimentary information of their historical past and mythology can add curiosity to what’s in any other case merely a novel stellar formation.

Let’s start with the Big Dipper, which is definitely an element of the constellation Ursa Major, the Great Bear. It is the third-largest constellation, and its boundaries comprise many extra stars than the seven that make up the Big Dipper. Facing south, look straight up and also you can spot it barely towards the west with Leo, the lion, just under. Between the two constellations, search for three pairs of faint stars generally known as the Three Leaps of the Gazelle. According to an historical legend, the darkish expanse of sky between the Great Bear and the Lion is named the Pond. The gazelle leaped into the pond to flee the lion. With slightly creativeness, you will notice the gazelle sprint shortly away from hazard, in three lengthy leaps by way of the shallow pond.

Now observe the arc to Arcturus. In different phrases, observe the path fashioned by the stars in the Dipper’s deal with right down to the first vivid star you see, Arcturus. Five thousand years in the past, whereas the Ice Age nonetheless lingered in Europe, the Sahara desert was inexperienced and fertile, and herdsmen traversed the plains with newly domesticated cattle, goats and sheep. Surely they seemed to the heavens and envisioned the similar amongst the stars. Arcturus lies at the backside of the historical constellation Bootes, the herdsman. The title is talked about in Homer’s Odyssey and in the sky the herdsman is driving the Bear, somewhat than a cow, sheep or goat. In reality, the title Arcturus means “guardian of the bear.”

Arcturus is notable for being the star that opened the Century of Progress World’s Fair in Chicago in 1933. At the time, Arcturus was considered 40 mild years away (we now understand it’s extra like 36 ly), and due to this fact its mild would have left the star 40 years earlier, in 1893, the similar 12 months as a earlier World’s Fair in Chicago. Light from the star was targeted by way of a telescope onto a photocell, which activated the switches that turned on the lights at the honest grounds. This established continuity between the two occasions and a hyperlink between celebrations on earth with what’s up in the sky.

 

This month in historical past:

June 2: Surveyor1 lands on moon — 1966

June 5: Regular observations of Neptune begun by Voyager 2 — 1989

June 10: Mars rover “Spirit” launched — 2003

June 16: Valentina Tereshkova is first (and solely solo) lady in area — 1963

June 18: Sally Ride turns into first American lady in area — 1983

June 22: Evidence of liquid water on Mars introduced by NASA — 2000

June 30: Tunguska influence flattens a whole bunch of miles of Siberian forest — 1908

 

— Peter Burkey is a Holland resident. Contact him at [email protected]

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