Tuesday, March 27, 2012

The Pleiades - Myths from around the World

 The Pleiades are the brightest open cluster in the northern sky and have fascinated people since the beginning of time. They are represented in ancient mythology of many cultures. Most myths relate the Seven (or Six) Sisters to young maidens or boys playing, dancing or just being young and wild, “Like a swarm of fireflies tangled in a silver braid.”

Let's look at what other people called these stars:

China - The Seven Sisters of Industry
Japan - Subaru (look closely at the logo of these cars)
South America - Cajupal, the Six Stars
Australian - Young girls playing music for the dancing young men (in Orion’s belt)
India - The Flame
Native American - Seven young men guarding the holy seed of agriculture/Or seven dancing children
Eskimo - The Bear
Hottentots - wives who kicked their husbands out because they were poor hunters
Borneo - mother and six chicks

The Pleiades are also featured heavily in All Hallow’s Eve celebrations - when they are highest at midnight. Aztecs, Mayan, Peruvians, Japanese, and Hindus all had festivals for the dead near November 1 in honor of the Seven Sisters. 

You can find them very easily.  Look west after sunset and you should see a little cloud hovering above the ground.  When you take a closer look you should be able to make out 5 or 6 of the stars.  A sharp-eyed second grader called it the "Dinky Dipper."  What do you think?  And Venus is nearby - that brightest of planets.  On April 2nd and 3rd Venus will be right next to the Pleiades.  Get out your binoculars and check them out!