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What's Up In The Sky, August 2011

posted Jul 17, 2011, 1:04 PM by Marvin Stewart
   Westerners get their astronomy from the Greeks.  Our system of organizing stars into constellations comes from Greek myths.  We use the Greek alphabet to rank the stars by their brightness.
  One of the larger civilization to also organize the stars were the Chinese.  Star maps have been found to date back to 500 BC made by Chinese astronomers at that time.  When sitting in a Chinese restaurant and looking at the placemat, it will show the twelve signs of the Chinese zodiac.  The Chinese also divided the sky into four large areas: East, North, West, and South.
East is represented by the Azure Dragon, which is also the sign of spring.  North is represented by the Black Turtle, which stands for winter. West and the season of autumn are represented by the White Tiger.  Lastly south and summer are represented by the Vermilion Bird.  If we look at the sky that the Chinese referred to as the Azure Dragon, it is made up of parts of the constellations that Westerners recognize as Virgo, Libra, Scorpius, and Sagittarius.  The star Spica and surrounding stars in Virgo make up the head and horns of the dragon.  The dragon's breasts are in Libra.  Scorpio's tail is also the tail of the Azure Dragon.  A winnoing basket is always drawn by the tail of the dragon, because at harvest time the sun is in the Azure Dragon. The basket is part of the constellation Sagittarius.
  At the same time the Chinese lunar calendar was made up of 13 months with 28 days per month, which they considered one lunar cycle.  That adds up to 364 days.  The extra day was their New Years Day.
     Aug 1   Called Lammas, is a cross quarter day, which is a day half way between equinoxes and solstices.
           05   The Moon is 2.3 deg from Spica.
           06   The Moon is at first quarter.
           13   Perseid meteor shower. Not a good year for this shower because of the full Moon.
           16   Venus passes into the evening sky.
           20   The Moon is less than 5 degrees from Jupiter in the morning sky.
           21    Last quarter Moon.
           29    New Moon.
           30   Jupiter begins retrograde motion, western movement, in the sky.