Stargazing in the Caribbean
copyright© 1998 Jeannie Kuich


The Leonid meteor shower peaking on the 17th may possibly be strong this year. Look several days before and after the 17th before dawn.

Mon. 2nd: Full
Mon. 9th: Last Quarter
Mon. 16th: New
Tue. 24th: First Quarter

Tue. 3rd: Brilliant Venus and the star Spica in Virgo before dawn
Sat. 7th: Moon and the star Pollux in Gemini in late evening
Sun. 8th: Moon and Mars in late evening
Tue. 10th: Moon and the star Regulus in Leo before dawn
Thu. 12th; Moon and Saturn before dawn
Sat. 14th; Moon and the star Spica in Virgo before dawn
Sun. 15th: Moon and Venus before dawn
Tue. 17th: Moon and the star Antares in Scorpius low before dawn
Sun. 22nd: Mercury and the star Antares in Scorpius low before dawn
Mon. 23rd: Moon and Jupiter in evening

          Pegasus the Flying Horse, one of the largest constellations, flies just past the overhead in the west. Its four stars forming the Great Square of Pegasus are not particularly bright, but they are easily noticeable because of the shape they form which is large enough for your two hands held together sideways to fit inside.
          The origin of this figure is uncertain and very ancient. In 4000 B.C. the Great Square was considered very important by the Sumerian civilization of Mesopotamia because the Square, situated precisely on the axis of the solstices, represented the center of Paradise, the place where the harmony of the universe converged. It was also at the center of the arch of the Milky Way and became identified with the magical unit of measure called the iku used in agriculture and the measure by which Noah built his ark.
          Centuries later Greek astronomers invented Pegasus in the Square’s place which is situated in the Celestial Sea beside the Fishes. It must seem strange to have a horse swimming in the sea, but the horse was the symbol of the sea god Poseidon. Horse figures representing Pegasus were placed on the prows of ships to ensure their safety and to symbolically carry them swiftly to their destinations.
          The fact that Pegasus rises upside-down is a mystery. The Greek myth says that Pegasus was the favorite horse of the muses. With his hoof, he struck the Earth on Mount Helicon and thereby caused the fountain of Hippocrene, sacred to poets, to gush forth. The present position of Pegasus’s hooves does not suggest anything connected with this myth.
          If we were to flip Pegasus over so that he stands upright, his hoof magically rests on the jar of Aquarius filled with water. The ancient East Indian myth supports this hypothesis, for it tells the story of a magical horse called Pagas who, during the night of the summer solstice around 3000 B.C., kicked the moon with his hoof and caused the lunar fluid called soma to fill the urn of Aquarius. This act coincided exactly with the arrival of the monsoons, thus explaining the ancient legends of the horse as the son of Poseidon, creator of springs, life-giving rains and ruler of the seas.

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