During summer the bright centre of the Milky Way is mostly below the western horizon by now This means we need to look to the south and east to see the cool stuff during the short warm summer evenings.
This is the time to check out the constellation of Orion – also known to us down under as ‘The Saucepan’ with its striking patterns of stars it makes for easy stargazing.
The Pleiades, Taurus, Orion, and his hunting dogs Canis Major and Canis Minor make their welcome return to the evening skies, spawning all manner of mythological tales. Sirius reminds us that it is the brightest star in the night sky, as it marks the collar of Canis Major, the ‘big dog’, while Orion has to negotiate with Taurus, the Bull, if he ever wants to make it with the Seven Sisters by Greek and roman mythology.
In many cultures the Pleiades are seen as seven sisters being pursued, usually by a man or beast. With indigenous Australian’s this is no different. The Warlpiri tribe of central Australia, see the the group of stars as the Napaljarri sisters from one skin group being chased by the Jakamarra man from a different skin group trying to take a wife, forbidden by tribal law.
In many other Australian indigenous cultures, the Pleiades are a group of young girls, and are often associated with sacred women’s ceremonies and stories. The Pleiades are also important as an element of Aboriginal calendars and astronomy, and for several groups their first rising at dawn marks the start of winter.
Western commonalities like The Pleiades don’t stop there. While the indigenous folks look for meaning between the stars in the dark, western cultures look for it in the stars themselves. We do share a common comfort that the stars above us are our loved ones watching peacefully over us.
Venus, Saturn and Jupiter continue their impressive nightly display lined up in the western evening sky.
Since Daylight Saving is in place in New South Wales, Victoria, South Australia, Tasmania, the Australian Capital Territory and Norfolk Island, all times this Month are in AEDT (Australian Eastern Daylight Time)