Stargazing in the Caribbean
copyright© 1998 Jeannie Kuich

SEPTEMBER 2009 SKY CALENDAR


SPECIAL EVENTS:
The brightest planet Venus and the brightest star Sirius rise together before dawn on the 2nd, 3rd and 4th.
The brilliant planet Jupiter commands the evening sky.
The autumn equinox occurs on the 22nd.
The year's closest proximity of a planet and a first-magnitude star occurs with Venus and Regulus in Leo before dawn on the 20th.


MOON PHASES:
Fri. 4th: Full
Fri. 11th: Last Quarter
Fri. 18th: New
Sat. 26th: First Quarter


MOON, PLANET AND STAR DANCES:
Wed. 2nd: Moon and Jupiter in late evening
Thu. 10th: Moon and the Pleiades star sisters in late evening
Sun. 13th: Moon and Mars before dawn
Mon. 14th: Moon and the star Pollux in Gemini before dawn
Wed. 16th: Moon, Venus and the star Regulus in Leo before dawn
Sun. 20th: Venus and the star Regulus in Leo close before dawn and Moon and the star Spica in Virgo in evening
Thu. 24th: Moon and the star Antares in Scorpius in evening
Tue. 29th: Moon and Jupiter in early evening


                                      SOAP OPERA
          Think of the sky as a video. As the sky appears to move from east to west, the sky story unfolds with characters appearing and disappearing. Right now the great Orion-Scorpius-Ophiuchus Greek film is playing in the September theater. We enter the last half of this great sky saga in which Orion, the mighty Rambo of the winter sky has been zapped by the Scorpion because Orion offended Gaia, the Earth Mother.
          Enter the autumn hero Ophiuchus, the Sky Doctor or Serpent Bearer. How is it that he holds tightly with both hands a great snake coiling through his legs? Ophiuchus discovered a magic herb in the mouth of the serpent which cures illnesses and brings people back to life. The herb has made Ophiuchus, who is also associated with Aesculapius, the son of the god Apollo, famous so that he is very much in demand. Pretty on, however, there are no more sick people and no more deaths, so the pharmacies and funeral homes are starting to suffer. Pluto, god of the underworld, isn’t getting his quota of dead souls either and complains to Jupiter to remedy the situation.
          Ophiuchus is really a good guy and has everybody’s interests at heart, so Jupiter ignores Pluto’s pleas for a while. But when Ophiuchus decides that the death punishment was too harsh for Orion and brings Orion back to life, things start to get out of hand. His next act when he stomps hard on the Scorpion, squashing it flat, just as you see it now lying above the southwestern horizon, brings about his downfall.
          Jupiter listens to Pluto’s grumbling and decides that Ophiuchus must be wasted because as a mere mortal, Ophiuchus is using the power to grant immortality, a privilege appropriated only to the gods. Jupiter sends his chief royal bird, Aquila the Eagle, which is flying to the upper left of Ophiuchus, to electrocute Ophiuchus with a thunderbolt. KABOOOOM! That’s the end of Ophiuchus and in the October sky, you find that both Ophiuchus and Scorpion have disappeared into the underworld. Orion, the winter hero, who started all the trouble, comes up in the east in October and the sky video starts all over again.
          The Caduceus, a winged staff with two serpents twined around it, is the symbol of the medical profession. It is probable that this symbol originated from the Ophiuchus myth. More attention should be paid to Ophiuchus since the constellation has become the thirteenth zodiacal sign.

Many other sky legends may be found in "Soap Operas Of The Sky", a stargazing guide by Jeannie Kuich.