Friday, December 28, 2007

Moon Phases

I added a moon phase calculator to the page today, and I think it looks great! As a calendar device, the moon is certainly cheap and easy enough to obtain. All you really need is a clear spot during the night and you can tell the time of the month. What? You mean there are still people in this enlightened age that don't know the moon is on a 28 day cycle? That indigenous peoples worldwide have been able to calculate eclipses of the sun and moon? If I said waxing gibbous, would you know what I was talking about? As a child I dreamed of going to the moon and stars, space travel was becoming a reality with the Gemini and Apollo US Space programs. But being a bit overweight always put those dreams out of reach. It started a lifelong interest in science, astronomy and astrology. I look to the stars on a clear night and make up my own constellations, using parts of others that mean little to me. The Hopi have the Planters, or perhaps you know them as the Subaru or Pleiades cluster. They use them as a guide for planting. When they drop below the horizon, it is planting time, and when they rise near fall, it is time to harvest. Also make a note of the Pot-rest Stars. You might know them as Orion's Belt. Lots of stars, lots of ways to make patterns in the sky.

Thursday, December 27, 2007


Have you ever had the chance to look at snowflakes? I mean really look at them. Over the weekend they were falling on my denim coat as I waited outside. The flakes were 1/4 inch across, and the deadly looking six pointed stars fell on the dark blue backdrop. I watched (until I got too cold) them land, saw the hexagonal perfection with dendritic and bladed tines fall, only to melt and turn into the tiniest of drops with just the heat from my arm. With so many snowflakes falling, can they really all be different? Perhaps the same shapes fall every year, in just a different location on the globe. All the myriad ways... Snowflakes don't fall like this very often, usually I need a hand lens just to see them and the smaller ones melt even faster. And I find that breathing on them wrecks them at an unheard of rate.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Back Again from the break.

Well, Good to see anyone who has been even remotely taking interest in this blog. I just got back from yet another meeting, and was introduced to another indigenous marvel: the Blackfeet Calendar Stick. This tool is used to mark time in months, as well as keeping track of nights, (Very important if you have a lunar calendar as well) and wind direction. Basically you need 12 meter long sticks, each with a feather tied to the top, each stick has colored bands, (the sticks I have researched since then have 15 black bands on say a green based stick.) To use, you wait until the sun is at its highest point and mark the shadow length on a piece of rawhide or buckskin. You should have longer shadow length in the winter (Can you guess why?) and shorter shadows in the summer. 3 sticks by 29 nights (OK, 30 days as well) makes for a quarter year, so marking vernal and autumnal equinox and summer and winter solstice should be pretty easy. The Blackfeet also use wind direction as a marker for the time of year. The way the wind blows and the intensity also make up a component of what amounts to a portable weather station. Different weather comes on different winds in Blackfeet country. Probably most everywhere has this sort of weather. We here in the Mission valley don't have as much ground wind, but you can tell from which direction the storms come from how bad they are going to be. Until next time.