The Night Sky

It has always been there – the sky that is – only we don’t appreciate it as much as we used to.

We do look up sometimes, especially on a clear night when the stars are bright or when the moon is full and swollen and hangs heavy over the earth.

But we are so focussed on where we’re going, how long we have to get there and what’s on TV tonight that we don’t take the time to really look into the darkness above us and appreciate everything that’s up there.

The fact that most of us live in countries where the surrounding ambient light means that you can’t really see the extent of the night sky makes it even harder for us to appreciate it.

Many of us have been camping and have been able to slow down from life enough to sit by the campfire or go walkabout at night and finally look up and see the magnitude of stars twinkling back at us.

Before we walked the earth our ancestors made sure that they knew just what was up there – at least to the best of their ability. They had no choice but to get to know the different constellations so that they could navigate their way over sea and land – which is how many of us got to the countries we live in today – thanks to our forefathers.

But even before those days of travel, people knew the stars. They had no TV and in the winter nights were long. There wasn’t too much to do on those long nights and many would make up stories of the stars from the shapes that they could see.

Constellations

Because the people did not have any comprehension of gods or know of a creator as such they were bound to question just what that dark stuff above them was and what the little sparkly pricks of light were.

It helped to make up stories about the stars and other natural things to help with their understanding of life, their place in the world and what it all meant.

The Greeks gave us several stories related to the stars and the gods they believed lived in the heavens above. But it is rumoured that they in turn actually learnt of these stories from the Ancient Egyptians or the Babylonians.

Wherever these legends started, we now know that there are 12 constellations recognised by most people around the world as ‘star signs’ and these are: –

Aries, Taurus, Gemini, Cancer, Leo, Virgo, Libra, Scorpio, Sagittarius, Capricorn, Aquarius and Pisces.

Some of us can’t get by without checking out what our future holds for us by looking at the horoscopes in the daily papers.

But many years ago astrology was reserved for royals only and some of the greatest leaders the world has seen relied heavily on what the stars said.

There are around 88 constellations in total in the sky and some of them are well known to us all. Orion, The Dog Star (Sirius, the brightest star in the sky after the sun), The Big Plough or Dipper and the Little Plough or Dipper are widely recognised.

Some constellations can only be seen in the Northern Hemisphere and some only in the Southern Hemisphere.

The Hunter
Orion the Hunter is very easy to recognise because of the three stars (Alnitak, Alnilam and Mintaka) that make up the hunters belt. Once you can spot them the rest of the constellation takes shape and you can see the bright star Betelgeuse (actually the 12th brightest star in the sky) that sits on his left shoulder. You can then see Orion’s hunting dogs, the stars Canis Major and Canis Minor who help him hunt the constellations Taurus the bull and Lepus the rabbit.

Greek legend tells us that Orion was in love with one of the seven sisters (from the constellation called Pleiades) but she would have nothing to do with him and he died when he stood on a scorpion (Scorpio).

The gods felt sorry for Orion and placed him and his dogs in the sky – far apart from the scorpion whose resting place is on the other side of the sky.

Tribal Stars
Because they live in a world different from our own, the inhabitants of tribeworld are much more in touch with nature than we generally are.

Being a man of the earth, Pride knew a lot about stars and constellations. He knew which way was North and this helped him find his way around the countryside at night.

Pride was in tune with the natural world and he loved to sit and gaze up at the stars, thinking of all that had gone on before him and what he had to do to help make the world a safe place to live in once more.

Patsy also loved to look at the night sky. She would think of her parents and how they had died and imagined that they were up there somewhere.

Sometimes she went to sleep at night looking at a bright star out of her window, comforted by the fact that somewhere her twin Paul might be looking at the same star.

Ebony does not seem the type to appreciate the night sky but she is intelligent enough to know the phases of the sun and moon as well as the way of the stars.
This has helped her innumerable times when she has had to find her way through the dark and she is glad that she took the time to learn about them as an important form of survival.

Lex likes the stars. He finds them particularly helpful when he is in a romantic frame of mind. All chicks like to look at stars, right?

Look into the future, what do you see?
When you look at stars you are actually looking at the past. Hard to grasp?

Stars are so far away that it takes a long time for the light to reach us – sometimes billions of years! So some of the stars that we can see now are stars that our ancestors would not have even seen!

So take a look up once in a while and see what you can spot. You can see all sorts of amazing things up there – maybe even a UFO. But that is another story…

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