Volume 16, Issue 26 - June 26 - July 2, 2008

Search bayweekly.com
Search Google

Sky Watch by J. Alex Knoll

A Tale of the Missing Sister

How the lost star of the Pleiades found its way to the Big Dipper

As the sun sets at week’s end around 8:35 a near-straight line of three lights appears over the western horizon. For months, Saturn and Regulus have traveled together; now Mars, dimmest of the three, has joined the fray. Night by night, Mars marches eastward, coming within one-half degree of blue-white Regulus on Monday and Tuesday nights.

Meanwhile, Jupiter appears low in the southeast at sunset amid the teapot-shaped constellation Sagittarius. Mighty Jove easily outshines all other lights except the moon and sun, and arches across the southern sky from dusk till dawn, disappearing in the southwest as the sun rises in the northeast before 6am.

Early birds can spot an ever-so-thin waning crescent moon rising around 3:30 the morning of June 30 amid the stars of Taurus the bull. Just two degrees higher shine the stars of the Pleiades star cluster; rising after the moon is Mercury, visible low in the sky until sunrise.

A Native American legend tells of a tribal leader who sent his son, Mizar, out to learn the lessons of the wind. One night, he was wakened by the sound of the wind. Looking up, he saw amid the Pleiades a light flickering in time with the windsong. The music grew louder and picked up pace, and Mizar began to float toward the light. He discovered that the light was one of seven heavenly sisters, and the two fell in love and were banished to the opposite side of the heavens You can see them, together to this day, as Mizar and Alcor of the Big Dipper.


Illustration: © Copyright 1925 M.C. Escher/Cordon Art-Baarn-Holland; Graphics: © Copyright 2007 Pacific Publishers. Reprinted by permission from the Tidelog graphic almanac. Bound copies of the annual Tidelog for Chesapeake Bay are $14.95 ppd. from Pacific Publishers, Box 480, Bolinas, CA 94924. Phone 415-868-2909. Weather affects tides. This information is believed to be reliable but no guarantee of accuracy is made by Bay Weekly or Pacific Publishers. The actual layout of Tidelog differs from that used in Bay Weekly. Tidelog graphics are repositioned to reflect Bay Weekly’s distribution cycle.Tides are based on National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and are positioned to coincide with high and low tides of Tidelog.

© COPYRIGHT 2008 by New Bay Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved.