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Watching the sky

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Since ancient times, humans have been observing the night sky. Daily, the Mayan observed the night sky and then recorded what they seen. They made the Mayan calendars and lived their lives according to what day it was, from these calendars. The Polynesians; Egyptians; Phoenicians and Norsemen also observed the night sky. They traveled in boats, to other islands and lands, by knowing the currents; knowing how to use the winds; and navigating from the stars- which is a celestial map. They looked for a patterned set of stars that they knew. Once their boat had arrived directly below the first star, they looked for the next star and paddled their boat to be directly under it. They continued to do this, until they arrived at their destination. Later, charts and compasses were used. A device called an astrolabe was used by sailors in the middle ages, to navigate.

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The planets and stars are a wonder and mystery to us, yet so beautiful to gaze upon. We humans look up at the sky and wonder about life up there amidst the planets and stars and think about where we are here on Earth. We see the black sky with stars that twinkle so brightly, which brings a smile to our face. As children, we sometimes learn a few of the patterned stars, such as the big dipper. The little dipper handle tip can be found above or below the end of the bowl of the big dipper.

The full moon brings out light for humans and animals to see at night. Since humans have existed, the full moon’s light has been an opportunity to hunt, gather and later to harvest crops. The full moon affects the tides and plants. Sometimes, it affects human and animal behaviors. A family pack of coyotes have the most unusual yet interesting magical yapping sounds, they make on a full moon. Wolves and dogs like to make a full and deep howl to the moon. Night animals seem to be more active in hunting and making different sounds- on a full moon. Big fish like to flop out of the water.

We see the full moon and some of us just continue on our busy way. Others want to take in a few moments or even hours observing the beautiful full moon and stars in the night sky. City dwellers often cannot see the stars well, because of the city lights. You have to travel a few miles out of the cities, to see the stars well. There are those few nights though, you can sit out on your porch or yard and see at least the big dipper from almost anywhere, in the northern hemisphere. We just had a super moon, which means the moon is the closest to Earth, making it appear larger. We realize the moon, planets and stars were here long before we were. We think about how life has progressed here on Earth. We think about what people must have thought about in early civilizations looking at the same planets, moon and stars that we look at today. It is nice time for reflection, not only of where we have been, but where we are going.

Have fun by organizing a small night sky watch evening, with family and friends. Have a few refreshments and see who can guess the star formations and possibly a few planets. It is good to wonder and gaze at any age, while we look upon our beautiful night sky from Earth.

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