Chasing after the sun as it sets lower and lower on the horizon each night, the stars we have come to know and love all summer long depart, and we know Winter is upon us!
If we have been vigilant sky watchers, we have paid particular attention these past few months to the happenings in Capricorn with Jupiter and Saturn passing over the teapot-shaped asterism known as the Archer.
Jupiter and Saturn have helped us scribe the ecliptic (the path of the sun) and the Archer and the Scorpion have held between them the pathway of the Milky Way, the center line of which we call the Galactic Equator.
This crosshair, where the Galactic Equator intersects the Ecliptic marks a point known as Galactic Center. Watching this point descend into the sun over the coming nights, so close to the December solstice, we are reminded that not only is Winter upon us, but also that we are at a great Turning of the Ages – the only time in a 26,000 year cycle where this point will exactly meet the Sun on the December Solstice.
The colder nights of fall may make long star gazing sessions a little less comfortable, but the crisp, clean air and the return of the dazzling Winter constellations make the effort of bundling up with warm clothes and a blanket more than worthwhile. Even without a knowledge of the constellations, the spectacles of Jupiter continuing to close in on Saturn and Mars, still incredibly bright, reaching its highest point in the sky just after sunset, make November a great month for evening sky watching. If you are able to stay out later, you may even catch some of the Leonid Meteor shower, peaking on Tuesday Nov. 17th, and emanating from the Lion constellation.
Early morning is also a great time to be out as Venus is still shining brightly and has moved in alongside Spica, the brightest star in the Virgin Priestess constellation. Also, if you are lucky and have a low horizon, you may even catch a sight of Mercury, having just reached its greatest distance from the Sun on Nov. 10, rising just before dawn!
November evenings seem to return everything to their proper order. The Pleiades returns to the evening sky after sunset carrying on its heels the return of the Bull, Orion and the rest of the Winter sky favorites.
Looking North, the Big Dipper sits with its “dipper” upright, although below the horizon for many of us, and above it sits Cassiopeia making a perfect “M” shape. According to myth, Cassiopeia was the queen of Ethiopia whose vanity upset the Gods and caused her husband, King Cepheus, to be forced to sacrifice their daughter Andromeda to the sea monster, Cetus.
Fortunately, the hero, Perseus was there to save the day, flying in on the winged horse Pegasus. All of these characters find their place in the sky surrounding the “M,” Mother Cassiopeia.
Once again, those of us who pay attention to the SAMS teachings know we are at an amazing time in history with so many astronomical and astrological events of extreme rarity occurring one after another. Now, imagine looking to one of the night sky’s most prominent star groups, like the five stars that make up the “M” of Cassiopeia, and seeing a sixth star suddenly appear!
This is exactly what happened back in 1572 as recorded by the famous astronomer, Tycho Brahe. The star appeared, grew in brightness, and then faded away and disappeared all over the course of 18 months. Now, recall the brightness of Venus in the morning sky and imagine a star brighter than Venus, just below the “M” of Cassiopeia. None could have predicted its arrival, and only now can we explain it as a supernova explosion.
Remarkable sky events like this are special periods of time that few get to live through and even fewer are even aware of even while they are happening. Let us keep our eyes to the skies lest we miss the next opportunity to observe something truly spectacular and unpredictable.
Yet, even if there isn’t another supernova to light up the sky, let us look up and remember that we are, in fact, living through incredibly rare and magnificent times, here at this Turning of the Ages!
Article by: J. Awen Labow