Go Outside! Venus very bright, Aldebaran chasing the Seven Sisters, Orion on the rise – it’s DOG DAYS!

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!



You really have to see it with your own eyes

The red object near the bottom of the photo is a streetlight - look higher, and you will see a faint image of the eclipsed Super Moon.

You have to click on the picture to see anything but the top of the fence.  The red object near the bottom of the photo is a streetlight – look higher, and you will see a faint image of the eclipsed Super Moon.

There are limits to my cheapie digicam – I tried to take a picture of Super Moon Eclipse 2015, with very little to show for it. It was beautiful, very red at times, and even more dramatic as the Earth’s shadow moved away. The moon looks very close these days, very 3-D.

But I won’t bother to get a picture this morning – I’ll just tell you, GO OUTSIDE! 

Right now Super Moon is hanging over the western horizon like a giant smiling face. Despite the glow that blots out a lot of stars, Orion stands up straight over my house, as though he is pursuing Super Moon. Taurus glowers down. 

In the peanut gallery to the East, Venus rises on her clam shell, wearing nothing but a bright smile. She seems to be shouting a greeting to Mars, who also stands very bright, almost in the center of the Southern sky. 

It’s pretty damned impressive people, enough reason to rub the grit out of your eyes and stumble out into the yard with your coffee cup before 6:30 am.