Volume XVII, Issue 39 # September 24 - September 30, 2009


We welcome your opinions and letters – with name and address. We will edit when necessary. Include your name, address and phone number for verification. Mail them to Bay Weekly, 1629 Forest Drive, Annapolis, MD 21403 •E-mail them to editor@bayweekly.com. or submit your letters on-line by clicking here.

Looking Skyward and Beyond

Dear Bay Weekly:

Just wanted to thank you for your terrific astronomy column, Sky Watch. Living over across the Severn River past Annapolis in Ulnstead Gardens, I have so much light pollution, that I do try to get out there nights when it is pretty clear (usually in fall/winter). Loved your last week's column about the bright stars including Sirius of Canis Major.

I am working on an historical fiction story beginning in Egypt, working its way through Rome, then Britain to Ireland, over a period of about 800 years, especially in the Dark Ages at the end of the book. I am curious to find more information about what the Egyptians called their constellations. I know that there is a star map on the ceiling at Dendera, but without knowing what they called them, it is a mystery. I know some star names, and a couple of constellations but wish there was a comprehensive list. Can you help?

–Allyson Walsh, www.Psy-Twins.com

J. Alex Knoll replies: Almost all of our star’s names are Arabic-based and come from the era in question. While astronomy gained a foothold in Greek and Roman times, hence the planets’ names, the science survived and thrived in Arabia while Western Europe fell into the darkness of the Middle Ages. You’ll find a wealth of information at the University of Illinois’ Star Count web-site, which to date describes the 619 brightest stars: http://stars.astro.illinois.edu/sow/sowlist.html. As for ancient Egyptian names, hieroglyphic written language makes that anyone’s guess.

Wash Your Hands — and Yours, Too

Dear Bay Weekly:

It is great to read your article on hand washing, as my mantra is wash your hands to prevent illness. I entered the Mrs. Maryland United States Pageant so that I could make myself heard by having a soapbox to stand on. As Mrs. Prince George’s County, I have been able to do that, speaking to groups on H1N1.

As a child I was so embarrassed when my mother would ask someone to wash their hands before they handled our food. Now I keep a magnet on my refrigerator with a photo of a young woman from the 1950s that reads: Despite years of personal development, she still turned into her mother.

I would like to see a law passed (at least while the Swine Flu is lurking about) that all food counters and every table in a food service establishment should have a large pump bottle of alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

–Cynthia Wood, Laurel

Department of Additions

Our cover image of September 17, the view of the wooded path at Annmarie Garden, was created by Artsfest ’09 artist Jeanne Norton Hammett and is the official Artsfest ’09 design.