The 2014 Autumnal Equinox Is Here

"Eyes wide open.
Movement is free and wide.
Wide net of light is cast.
Journeys shine brighter.”

The seasons are changing today. For us, in the Northern Hemisphere, the September equinox, also known as the autumnal equinox, marks the first day of autumn, while in the Southern Hemisphere, it is the first day of spring. The season officially began at 02:29 UTC. The Latin term equinox, or ‘equal night’, is derived from this phenomenon. The equinox, which occurs twice a year, is that instant when the plane of Earth’s Equator passes the center of the Sun. At that moment, the tilt of Earth’s axis neither inclines away from nor towards the Sun.

As the Sun travels across the celestial equator, which means shorter days and longer nights for the Northern Hemisphere while the Southern Hemisphere can celebrate longer days and shorter nights, it will rise due east and set due west. If you so happen to be standing on the Equator during the autumnal equinox, you can see the Sun pass directly overhead. These two events also occur during the vernal equinox. The autumnal equinox also marks the start of six months of continuous darkness at the North Pole and six months of continuous daylight at the South Pole.

Except at the North and South Pole, all latitudes on Earth see the Sun rise at due east and set at due west on the September equinox. Until the winter solstice in December, the Sun will continue to rise and set farther to the south.

Astronomically speaking, the September equinox marks one of the four major turning points in the cycle of seasons. The Earth spins on its axis, which is tilted at 23.5 degrees with respect to its orbital plane. On these days, however, the Earth’s axis is neither tilted away nor towards the Sun, but has both northern and southern hemispheres experiencing equal amounts of sunshine.

* The Significance of the Equinox in Spirituality and Ancient Times *

The autumn equinox is a mysterious time. It marks an essential passage in the process of enlightenment that is often overlooked, misunderstood, and mistaken as dark and heretical.

It is the time of balance between day and night, before night takes over and brings the coming winter, a time of darkness and death. This duality between light and dark exists within humanity, and in the work of spiritual transformation. All things must die before they can be born, all spiritual ascent requires descent first, and all those who long for light must firstly face their own inner darkness and overcome it. The autumn equinox symbolizes a stage of inner preparation in the process of enlightenment—to make way for the Son to be born within at the winter solstice.

Remnants of the esoteric meaning of the autumn equinox can barely be found in lasting traditions from the times of ancient peoples who celebrated it and knew of its real significance. To discover the esoteric meaning by looking at rituals and traditions is not easy. There are many traditions which have been passed down today, but these have strayed from their root meanings. Different civilizations and cultures have added their own veneer, altering and losing much of the meaning as they themselves lost the knowledge of it.

Traditionally, the autumn equinox is a celebration of the harvest, as it is when summer has finished giving its fruits, which are collected in preparation for winter. But there are other indicators given by the most ancient sacred sites that mark the autumn equinox: a descending passage into a subterranean pit lit by a star of the dragon constellation in the Great Pyramid of Egypt, a seven-scaled feathered serpent of light descending a giant pyramid in Mexico, a giant Pyramid of the Sun aligned to the equinoxes built on a cave symbolizing the underworld, and even giant statues facing the sunset that leads to growing darkness on Easter Island.

September Equinox Customs and Holidays Ancient Greece
In Greek mythology fall is associated with when the goddess Persephone returns to the underworld to be with her husband Hades. It was supposedly a good time to enact rituals for protection and security as well as reflect on successes or failures from the previous months.

Australia
Aboriginal Australians have, for a long time, had a good knowledge of astronomy and the seasons. Events like the September equinox, which is during the spring in Australia, played a major role in oral traditions in Indigenous Australian culture.

China
In China the Mid-Autumn Festival, also known as the Moon Festival, is celebrated around the time of the September equinox. It celebrates the abundance of the summer’s harvest and one of the main foods is the mooncake filled with lotus, sesame seeds, a duck egg or dried fruit.

Japan
Higan, or Higan-e, is a week of Buddhist services observed in Japan during both the September and March equinoxes. Both equinoxes have been national holidays since the Meiji period (1868-1912). Higan means the “other shore” and refers to the spirits of the dead reaching Nirvana. It is a time to remember the dead by visiting, cleaning and decorating their graves.

Christianity
The Christian church replaced many early Pagan equinox celebrations with Christianized observances. For example, Michaelmas (also known as the Feast of Michael and All Angels), on September 29, fell near the September equinox.

Pagan celebration: Mabon
On the autumnal equinox, many pagans celebrate Mabon as one of the eight Sabbats (a celebration based on the cycles of the sun). Mabon celebrates the second harvest and the start of winter preparations. It is the time to respect the impending dark while giving thanks to the sunlight.

Sources: Wikipedia, Encyclopedia Britannica, National Geographic, The Path of the Spiritual Sun, www.timeanddate.com

 

#Dolphin In The #Sky With #Diamonds

The ancient constellation of “Delphinus”, the dolphin, is a beautiful patch of stars arranged in the shape of a diamond, that can easily be recognized. Maybe one of the easiest ways to find this tiny constellation is to identify the bright star Altair, in the Aquila the eagle constellation, and look towards east. The stars that form Delphinus are quite faint, but being so close to each other and disposed in such a way, the constellation stands out easily, when the nights are dark and clear. It is one of the smaller constellations, ranked 69th in size.

The main asterism in Delphinus is Job’s Coffin, formed from the four brightest stars: Alpha, Beta, Gamma, and Delta Delphini. Alpha and Beta Delphini are named Sualocin and Rotanev, respectively, which, when read backwards, they read as Nicolaus Venator, the Latinized name of Palermo Observatory’s former director, Niccolò Cacciatore. Gamma Delphini is one of the best known double stars in the sky, with the primary star being a yellow-white dwarf star, while the secondary star is an orange subgiant star. Delta Delphini is a white main-sequence star, located at 223 light years away.

Delphinus (the Dolphin) was known by Ancient Greeks as the ‘Sacred Fish’ and appears twice in mythology, once a dolphin helped Poseidon to locate the mermaid, Amphitrite, and brought her back to be his queen, in his golden palace, at the bottom of the sea. As a reward Poseidon placed the dolphin among the stars. 
The second appearance is when Arion, a poet and musician was sailing back to Greece, when his crew turned against him, using a Lyre he summoned up a school of dolphins, throwing himself into the sea; one of the dolphins carried him on its back to Greece.

Muzică minimalistă

N-a mai plouat de mult, e abur dens
Parc-a trecut un ceas sau doar un veac
Un saxofon emană iz de tei și scrum
Pe drumul dintre blocuri trece-un hOMeless.

N-a mai plouat de mult, un saxofon intens
Emană drumul dintre blocuri lent
Și simt latența și distanța dintre noi
Ce fără sens s-au instalat concomitent.

De când n-ai mai trecut pe lânga ceas
A ars un hOMeless sub o stea,
Acum e scrum.
Din fum se-nalță un parfum cu iz de tei
Și primii stropi de ploaie cad pe drum.

The most spectacular Moon of 2014 lights up the sky tonight! This “Supermoon” is the largest Full Moon of 2014.The best way to see the Super Moon is after sunset, when the Moon, being closer to the horizon, will seem even bigger than it is. This phenomenon is known as the “moon illusion”.A perigee moon, also known as a super moon, is a coincidence of a Full Moon or a New Moon with the Moon’s closest approach to Earth, named perigee. That’s the point at which the Moon is nearest to Earth as it traces its elliptical path around our planet. Another name for the super moon is the perigee-syzyhy of the Earth-Moon-Sun system. The term “supermoon” is not astronomical, but originated in modern astrology. The association of the Moon with both oceanic and crustal tides has led to claims that the supermoon phenomenon may be associated with increased risk of events such as earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.Due to the Moon’s elliptical orbit around the Earth, its distance varies each month between approximately 357,000 kilometers and 406,000 km. According to NASA, a full moon at perigee is up to 14% larger and 30% brighter than one at its farthest point, or apogee. Tonight’s Super Moon will be at 356,922 km away from Earth. It will be the closest, biggest and fullest moon of 2014.* Full Sturgeon MoonSome Native American tribes called this month’s Moon the Sturgeon Moon because they knew that the sturgeon of the Great Lakes and Lake Champlain were most readily caught during this full Moon. They also called this the Full Green Corn Moon. Different tribes had different Moon name preferences. Other examples for August are: Wheat Cut Moon (San Ildefonso, and San Juan), or “Moon When All Things Ripen” (Dakotah Sioux) or “Blueberry Moon” (Ojibway).To find out the Moon’s distance from Earth at any time, you can use the Moon Distance Calculator: http://www.timeanddate.com/astronomy/moon/lunar-perigee-apogee.htmlPhoto by Robin Ohia/flickr

The most spectacular Moon of 2014 lights up the sky tonight! This “Supermoon” is the largest Full Moon of 2014.

The best way to see the Super Moon is after sunset, when the Moon, being closer to the horizon, will seem even bigger than it is. This phenomenon is known as the “moon illusion”.

A perigee moon, also known as a super moon, is a coincidence of a Full Moon or a New Moon with the Moon’s closest approach to Earth, named perigee. That’s the point at which the Moon is nearest to Earth as it traces its elliptical path around our planet. 

Another name for the super moon is the perigee-syzyhy of the Earth-Moon-Sun system. The term “supermoon” is not astronomical, but originated in modern astrology. The association of the Moon with both oceanic and crustal tides has led to claims that the supermoon phenomenon may be associated with increased risk of events such as earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.

Due to the Moon’s elliptical orbit around the Earth, its distance varies each month between approximately 357,000 kilometers and 406,000 km. According to NASA, a full moon at perigee is up to 14% larger and 30% brighter than one at its farthest point, or apogee. Tonight’s Super Moon will be at 356,922 km away from Earth. It will be the closest, biggest and fullest moon of 2014.

* Full Sturgeon Moon

Some Native American tribes called this month’s Moon the Sturgeon Moon because they knew that the sturgeon of the Great Lakes and Lake Champlain were most readily caught during this full Moon. They also called this the Full Green Corn Moon. 

Different tribes had different Moon name preferences. Other examples for August are: Wheat Cut Moon (San Ildefonso, and San Juan), or “Moon When All Things Ripen” (Dakotah Sioux) or “Blueberry Moon” (Ojibway).

To find out the Moon’s distance from Earth at any time, you can use the Moon Distance Calculator: http://www.timeanddate.com/astronomy/moon/lunar-perigee-apogee.html

Photo by Robin Ohia/flickr

Solar Activity In Still Images 

Is it the #Sun, or a cell? These amazing images of the Sun, captured by Alan Friedman, show in great detail last week’s intense solar activity, when the Sun was sprinkled with large spots and prominences, which appear in the photos as dark spots. Sunspots are temporary events, caused by intense magnetic activity, forming areas of reduced surface temperature. They usually appear as pairs, with each sunspot heaving the opposite magnetic pole to the other.
Sunspots expand and contract as they move across the surface of the Sun and can be as small as 16 kilometers and as large as 160,000 kilometers (100,000 mi) in diameter, making the larger ones visible from Earth without the aid of a telescope. They may also travel at relative speeds of a few hundred meters per second when they first emerge onto the solar photosphere.

Compared to last week’s intense solar activity, this week’s sun is almost blank, with low activity and a quiet solar disk.

Bodyscapes 

Photographer and artist John Poppleton paints fantastic sceneries inspired by nature, directly on human bodies, using fluorescent materials, and then he photographs the canvases under UV light, obtaining dream like sceneries. 

“Your visions will become clear only when you can look into your own heart. Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes.” 
― C.G. Jung

 The Red Book, a.k.a. Liber Novus: A Window Into Jung’s Dreams

First Photos of the April 29, 2014, Solar Eclipse 


A partial solar eclipse took place earlier this morning, in Australia, where viewers were able to catch the “crescent” sun setting. The peak of the eclipse, which was “a ring of fire” annular eclipse, happened above an uninhabited area of Antarctica, so no one witnessed it. These are some of the first photos snapped by the lucky stargazers who witnessed the dramatic event:
 

 

In ancient Greece the study of astronomy was linked to the same physical principles as musical harmony.  For example, many Greek thinkers believed that each of the planets and stars created their own unique sound as they traveled through the cosmos, thrumming like an enormous guitar string light-years long.
From the TED-Ed Lesson Music and creativity in Ancient Greece - Tim Hansen
Animation by Together

 

In ancient Greece the study of astronomy was linked to the same physical principles as musical harmony.  For example, many Greek thinkers believed that each of the planets and stars created their own unique sound as they traveled through the cosmos, thrumming like an enormous guitar string light-years long.

From the TED-Ed Lesson Music and creativity in Ancient Greece - Tim Hansen

Animation by Together

Amazing landscape photography by Mark Adamus. Read the captions.

2014 Underwater Photography Photo Contest winner, Wide Angle/Natural Light (no strobe) category, 3rd place. Photo by Shane Gross

2014 Underwater Photography Photo Contest winner, Wide Angle/Natural Light (no strobe) category, 3rd place. Photo by Shane Gross

#Pluto and its moon #Charon, two very fascinating presences in the Solar System. Here are some interesting facts about them:

* Some astronomers call Pluto and Charon a “double planet”. Charon is almost half the size of Pluto, and the distance between them is 19,640 km (12,200 miles).

* Because Pluto and Charon are tidally locked to each other, Charon appears to stand still in Pluto’s sky and the same sides of Pluto and Charon always face each other.

* Every 124 years, for several years it is mutual-eclipse season, when Pluto and Charon each eclipse the Sun for the other, at intervals of 3.2 days.

* For 20 years of its almost 248-year orbit, Pluto is closer to the Sun than Neptune because of its off-center and highly inclined orbit. From 1979 to 1999, Pluto was the eighth planet and Neptune was the ninth. Now Pluto is back to being the ninth planet (though dwarf), and it will be closer to the Sun again on April 5, 2231.c

* Pluto actually has three moons. Charon is the largest. Nix and Hydra are the other two.

* A person who weighs 45 kg on Earth would weigh only 3 kg on Pluto.

* Like Uranus and Venus, Pluto spins in the opposite direction as Earth, which means the Sun rises in the west and sets in the east.

* 248 Earth years is the time that Pluto takes to orbit around the Sun. Charon’s orbit around Pluto takes 6.4 Earth days, and one Pluto rotation (a Pluto day) takes 6.4 Earth days, so the sun rises and sets once a week

* Pluto’s distance from the Sun is from 4.4 to 7.4 billion kilometers. Light takes between from 4.1 hours and 6.8 hours to travel from the Sun to Pluto. Yet, the Sun is still very bright, giving roughly 150 to 450 times the light of the full Moon from Earth.

* While Pluto was downgraded from a planet to a dwarf planet, or “plutoid,” several astronomers argued that Pluto and other small objects similar to Pluto should all be classified as planets because they have cores, geology, seasons, moons, atmospheres, clouds, and polar caps in many cases.

Planetary Alignment Tonight: Mars, Earth and the Sun

A rare celestial events occurs tonight, when Mars, Earth and the Sun will align in a straight line. For the fortunate sky gazers who live outside the city, the event would be directly observable around sunset, when the Sun will set in the west, in the constellation of Pisces, and Mars will rise in the opposite direction, in the east, in the Virgo constellation, around the same time. Mars and the Sun are on directly opposite sides of the Earth, or ‘at opposition’, an event which happens every 26 months.

The closer a planet is to the Sun, the faster it moves on the orbit. Compared to Mars, Earth is closer to the Sun, hence it takes a shorter time to complete one orbit around the star. To put it more simple: Earth makes two trips around the Sun in about the same amount of time that Mars takes to make one trip. Sometimes the two planets are on opposite sides of the Sun, very far apart, and other times, Earth catches up with its neighbor and passes relatively close to it. If Earth and Mars would move along perfect circles, once in 780 days, Mars would be in the same position, regarding to Earth. But because we move on elliptical orbits - and Mars even more than Earth - in 6 days, on April 14, same night when the Moon eclipse will happen, Mars will be even closer to Earth than it is now.

Around these weeks you can view Mars for the entire night, in the Virgo constellation. It rises at sunset and sinks into the other hemisphere at sunrise. Its color is bright red and it outshines all the other stars in the night sky. Through binoculars you can even distinguish some of its most prominent features, but don’t expect to see its moons, Phobos and Deimos, which are visible only through powerful telescopes.

For those who can not witness the opposition through their own eyes, there are several sites which provide live streaming: http://events.slooh.com/stadium/mars-opposition, or http://www.virtualtelescope.eu/webtv/.

NASA’s 3 minutes video on the opposition of Mars: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xngUpUyyT70

The Moon, Jupiter & The Winter Circle | Mars & Saturn

Tonight, as darkness falls, the Moon and Jupiter will lie in the sky very close to each other, in the constellation Gemini the Twins.
The Moon is almost half-lit, while Jupiter is the most brilliant ‘star’ in the sky. The Moon takes 27.3 days to complete its sidereal orbit, so it stays for about 2.5 days in each of the twelve zodiacal constellation, while Jupiter, which completes an orbit around the Sun every 12 years, spends about one year in each constellation.
The two celestial bodies will be in the midst of the Winter Circle, or Winter Hexagon asterism, formed by the most dazzling winter stars: Capella (Auriga), Castor (Gemini), Pollux (Gemini), Procyon (Canis Minoris), Sirius (Orion), Rigel (Orion) and Aldebaran (Taurus).

A very red Mars rises in the East, in the constellation of the Virgo, and is soon followed by Saturn, which resides in the Libra segment. In two days, on April 8, the Sun, Earth and Mars will be on a straight line, with the Earth in the middle. This event happens once in a Mars synodic period (780 days), and it is called Mars-Earth opposition. When Mars is at opposition, it is in the middle of its retrograde loop and the distance between the two planets will be relatively small; its disk appears larger and it has a negative magnitude. This is the most favorable time for viewing Mars.

For the entire month of April, Mars will stay bright and big in the sky, from dusk till down, but circle the night of Tuesday, April 8, when the Earth will be closer to Mars than it has come for almost six-and-a-half years.

allstarsandconstellations:

It’s spring, the season of #sakura, a sight which I hope you all enjoy. The japanese term “sakura” means cherry blossom, or the flower of any of several trees of genus Prunus. Sakura have long been revered in Japan, with the practice of holding cherry blossom viewing parties, or hanami, said to date back to at least the 8th century. As such, many of the most beautiful specimens have been lovingly cared for over hundreds of years. A few reach an even more advanced age, such as the Miharu Takizakura, which is over 1,000 years old.

Cherry blossoms also symbolize an enduring metaphor for the ephemeral nature of life, an aspect of Japanese cultural tradition that is often associated with Buddhistic influence, and which is embodied in the concept of ‘mono no aware’, meaning the awareness of impermanence, literally “the pathos of things”, and also translated as “an empathy toward things”, or “a sensitivity to ephemera”.