At 4:47 this morning I woke up to the sounds of my new neighbor getting into her car and leaving. She’s an early bird. At that hour I can hear the crunch of her feet on the gravel driveway. It’s actually better than waking to the sound of my stove timer – BEEP BEEP BEEP!
After I pressed the button on the coffee pot I stumbled outside into the dark – there in the East I saw the Seven Sisters. This is the first constellation I remember identifying as a child. I thought it was the Little Dipper, but my uncle Boo took me aside and told me the story of Atlas, forced to hold up the sky, and his daughters, who all had various jobs. He took his finger and led my eyes down to the bright red star – Aldebaran, the bull’s fiery eye. He spread out his index and middle finger to show me the shape of the bull’s horns. He told me that in mythology the bull was alternately protecting the sisters and chasing them.
According to Deborah Byrd of “EarthSky”, “The star [Aldebaran] is so huge that, were it in our sun’s place, its surface would extend almost to the orbit of Mercury.”
When I was a kid in Glenn County the sky looked bigger. You could see the entire sky from my grandparents’ big turnaround driveway. The Milky Way stretched out across our yard like a giant superhighway lit up for miles.
This morning Venus looks like a preliminary sun. When I checked 5 minutes ago, she was shining so bright it threw a little halo around herself, like a Queen’s tiara.
I watched for the giant Orion and his dogs, but they were behind the sun. Of course you realize, it’s Dog Days, and that’s when old ladies and dogs go crazy.
5:33 and the sky is brightening outside, Venus is the only thing visible, very bright – you can see the sun shining on her round bottom!
Time to get to work!