Star­walks: Into the Dark

Catron Courier - - Front Page - By Thea Mar­shall

The great square of Pe­ga­sus is high over­head by sun­down at the end of Novem­ber, and the three stars of the sum­mer tri­an­gle—Vega, Deneb Aldige, and Al­tair—are set­ting in the west. Capella, the star of the Egyp­tian God Ptah, is al­ready vis­i­ble in the NE sky. Along with two other of Auriga’s stars, Capella is also iden­ti­fied by the Mescalero Apaches as ‘The three who went to­gether’ rep­re­sent­ing two sis­ters who both loved the same man and rather than fight over him, they shared him.

To the SE of Capella look for the Pleiades, a fuzzy cloud of stars called “pinyon seeds” by the Zuni. At the same time the stars of the Big Dipper are skim­ming low on the north­ern sky; the star Phecda dip­ping be­low the hori­zon at 8 PM on Novem­ber 20 and two hours ear­lier by De­cem­ber 20, at 6 PM. The Al­abama Na­tive Amer­i­cans, re­lated to the Creek tribe, con­sid­ered the Big Dipper a ce­les­tial boat whereby sky be­ings de­scend to earth and hu­mans as­cend to the heav­ens. The Creek call it Pilo­hagi, ‘the im­age of a ca­noe.’ High in the sky at sun­set in late Novem­ber the evening star Venus will con­join the new moon on De­cem­ber 5. Ret­ro­grade in mo­tion on De­cem­ber 21, it dis­ap­pears into the sun­set at year’s end. Venus rep­re­sents the Twin War Gods of the Zuni. At sun­set on New Years Eve as Venus dis­ap­pears, the ca­noe that is the Big Dipper rises.

A cur­rent res­i­dent in Pie Town, Thea Mar­shall has lived in NM for 34 years, and en­joys writ­ing, her horse, and the stars. al Lo­cater Bea­con (PLB) or SPOT. They use satel­lite tech­nol­ogy and can ini­ti­ate searches or no­tify your fam­ily mem­bers you need help.

The best part is, these sim­ple items can all fit in a fanny pack or a back pack, and we all have one of those.

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