Browsing the archives for the Astronomy category

Orion, My Longtime Friend

Astronomy, Mythology, Science Fiction

Technical forward: All the links to pics below are from Stellarium referencing the sky tonight from my home near Houston, TX around 8pm tonight. well, except when Sirius shows up – his tail isn’t wagging and visible until about 10pm tonight. But while oriented around tonight and my home, Orion and Sirius are visible through the Fall and Winter in most of North America.


I “discovered” Orion long before I knew who he was. I still remember it, because I was so sick as a child driving home from Thanksgiving in Houston to New Orleans and remembered pressing my face against the glass in the car to cool off. In time, I realized that the stars seemed to be keeping pace with the car. And I was comforted that as sick as i was, the stars were traveling with me. Three starts in particular I noticed, in a straight line, up-and-down, and I didn’t see anything else like them in the sky. I called them “family” and watched them racing over the ground to keep up with the car. In time. I noticed a pair of stars – one on each side – of my new star-fiends, Family. I think I named them Peace and Hope. Click on the pic/links below to see if you can spot them here:


Eventually, I learned about constellations and stars and fell in love with Astronomy. I found star charts that showed that Orion was the name of those stars together, and that what I called Family, was actually Orion’s Belt. Orion has been a friend ever since, because I see him so easily in the Fall. About 9pm in November, he is at the end of my driveway as I am getting out of the car, welcoming me home. Seeing him from the line drawings is a bit difficult, but here they are. That is not a bow in his hand, like I always thought, but rather his latest kill. His club is in his hand above his head. And his sword is on his belt (and there is a special jewel there).


It turns out that Orion has quite a past, even before I discovered him and his belt. The great hunter to the greeks was said by some to be the son of Poseidon, and came to desire Merope. Her father gave him a task of removing every dangerous animal from the island, and though he completed the task, her father would create rumors of wolves still out there to keep him from Merope. One night, Orion and Merope got together, and in retaliation for not waiting for his blessing, her father blinded Orion while asleep.

Now Merope was one of the seven Pleiades, the Sailing Sisters, and they together lead Orion to help. Eventually Dawn (Eos) and her light returned him to sight. But they say that Merope in the meantime had married a mortal her father approved of, and this is why only six of Pleides can ever be seen in the sky when dawn first shows her light. Eos was smitten with Orion, and they spent a long time together. But you know those gods…

But all was not well with the Gods and Orion. The great hunter eventually started going off on hunting trips with Artemis, the red-headed goddess of the hunt and the moon – she apparently so enjoyed his company that she started to skip her nights of lighting the world. And after boasting he could hunt every species to exinction, Mother Earth took matters in her own hands and sent a giant scorpion (Scorpius) to kill him. But Apollo, Artemis’s brother got him first, tricking Artemis to shoot a far off target bobbing in the ocean (who he knew was Orion, but told her he was someone that attacked her priestesses), and Artemis grabbed her bow and put three arrows in Orion before realizing who he was. When she saw what she had done, she rushed to Orion and made him immortal, now placing him in the stars to continue the hunting he loved – she even sent him his dog, Sirius for company.


One last bit of Orion coolness for now…. Those two bright stars opposite one another across the belt of Orion? They are Betelgeuse, the home of a certain hoopy frood, and Rigel the star where Harry Mudd and his women were, and on a different planet in the system, the one where McCoy hooked up with a couple of chorus girls. And if we look, Betelgeuse is Orion’s shoulder, which answers that question of where exactly Roy Batty, Rutger Hauer’s Character from Blade Runner, was speaking of when he said he had, “seen things you people wouldn’t believe, attacked ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion.”


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Beauty of Acceptance and Midnight Walks

Astronomy, Pets, Spiritual Journey

One day this past week I was looking at the chaos in my life, and wondering about the phrase, “powerless over people places and things”. So in a spare moment of googling, I found a page on the web with the following definition of powerlessness to be helpful:

Sensation of being out of control with no apparent solution to help you to regain control.

This reverberated within me. I am usually quite competent at solving any one problem. I do quite well with two or three problems. The last 18 months, I have 20-30 at any given time. So many problems seem simple until it comes to budgeting the time and energy to resolve them, to “just do it”. I have been overwhelmed lately on so many fronts that my inner wherewithall reserves have been insufficient to solve all of them.

So the next items on the same page caught my attention when it talked about the dangers of not accepting powerlessness:

·Begin to frustrate yourself in your attempts to gain control and to fix the non-fixable.
·Deny the enormity of the things which you do not have power to change and become locked into “fantasy” or “magical” thinking that given enough time, energy, and resources you can succeed in changing them.
·Become so full of self-pride as to believe that only you can be the “savior” for the ills or problems you are facing.
·Become so self-preoccupied that you become incapable of reaching out to ask for others’ help and support in facing these problems which are beyond your power and control.
·Deny the existence of a Higher Power in your life upon whom you can call for help and assistance.
·Lose your faith in the capability of human beings to help out a fellow human who is in need of help and support.
·Feel so defeated by the non-fixable realities of life that you come to believe yourself an inadequate person.
·Forget that you are a human being and as such open to failures and mistakes and not the “perfect being” who is omnipotent and infallible in all things.
·Lose perspective of your own limits and not be self-protective of your energy, resources, and spirit in your incessant effort to solve the unsolvable.

And I began to gain a sense of needing to do something about all of this. But that was all the time I had for introspection and other things were clamoring for my attention. But all of this was brought back in a hurry that same night at a meeting for my daughter’s “alternate peer group” program when we listened to the importance of accepting that things were as they were and that maybe this is how they are supposed to be for right this moment.

So I tried that thought on for size. “For this moment, it is ok that things are out of control in my life. They won’t stay that way, but that’s how they are and that’s ok, cuz this is just that screwed up time in my life that was going on for a while.” And the idea was calming. I didn’t mean it as a cop out, I just meant I could quit fighting the desperate, losing fight to hold off the chaos and force my life to get back on track, and re-evaluate how and where I would spend my efforts in making sure this “screwed up time in my life that was going on for a while” would stay temporary.

To show the effect this has had on me, let me share my midnight walk with my dog to the lake. It was cold, crisp, silent and beautiful. Altocumulus clouds were lightly layered across the night sky, reminding me of how individual waves lapping at the beach make wavy patterns on the shore, but here the wavy patterns were the warm gulf air and the cold front touching briefly as wavy line of ice-crystal clouds formed across the night sky. Orion peaked through the clouds and Betelgeuse and Rigel accompanied for my walk. Cassiopeia peaked out briefly and went back beneath the covers of the clouds. Heidi chased ducks and added her comments on the dog blogspace that is the trail by the lake. Christmas and other lights from across the lake reflection-painted the mirror-surface of the water with a skill and beauty that Picasso could never get in his golden yellows.

Accepting powerlessness and then starting to work on the things I can affect now meant that when I stepped out into the world, I could see the whole universe waving back. How long has it been since I have had a good night’s walk with my dog at the lake? How many nights have the clouds drawn lines where northern air and gulf breezes kiss, but I paid no attention? How many times do the stars sing for me but I cannot hear what they say because I am locked in the noise of my own inner battles?

Instead of frustrating myself, I am now promoting my self and my care. Instead of denying the enormity of things, I recognize them and accept them, and will do what I can, where I can. Instead of being filled with self-pride, I am open and empty enough to let wonder pass through me bringing me her glorious gifts. Instead of being so self-preoccupied, I could hear the songs of the stars and see the beauty of the lake. Instead of denying the existence of my higher power, I could just hang out with him and say thanks for this wonderful world. Instead of losing faith in the capabilities of my fellow human beings, I am filled with hope for us all. Instead of feeling defeated, I feel energized knowing I only have to swing my sword where it will be effective today. Instead of forgetting that I am human and forgetting my own limits, I can find freedom once again in recognizing my humanity and limits:

We are frail, we are fearfully and wonderfully made
Forged in the fires of human passion
Choking on the fumes of selfish rage
And with these our hells and our heavens
So few inches apart
We must be awfully small
And not as strong as we think we are