Solar Eclipse, Night Skies & Devil’s Tower

The upcoming solar eclipse on August 21, 2017, has everyone focusing on the daytime skies. Thermopolis is dead-center for a good view of the eclipse (if it does not rain or clouds don’t get in the way).

But don’t forget to check out the night skies as well. In our wide-open spaces area of Wyoming, it is easy to see the sky “in the round,” that is, literally 360 degrees. There are excellent resources on the internet to help explain the phenomena of our celestial skies. Here’s some resources that can be helpful:

Solar eclipse, NASA, Fred Espenak

Solar Eclipse

eclipse.gsfc.nasa.gov/solar.html (NASA Solar Eclipse site)

http://www.mreclipse.com/Special/SEprimer.html (Solar eclipses for beginners)

https://eclipse.gsfc.nasa.gov/SEhelp/safety.html (solar eclipse eye safety)

http://www.nikonusa.com/en/learn-and-explore/a/tips-and-techniques/how-to-photograph-a-solar-eclipse.html (how to photograph a solar eclipse, from Nikon cameras)

General Astronomy

Astronomy Resources
Northern Lights
Astronomy for Kids
Astronomy Prints and Activities for Kids
Astronomy Software and Resources

 

 

And thanks to Amy Ashford’s Astronomy club in Ontario, who suggested this favorite of theirs: http://www.e-aircraftsupply.com/articles/space-lessons-for-kids.aspx

Stars

The stars and planets have always figured in the legends and stories of the Native American peoples. Below is a story about Devil’s Tower and the Pleiades (Seven Sisters) star formation. Devil’s Tower is located in the northeastern corner of Wyoming. The Arapahoe and Shoshoni tribes are located on the Wind River Reservation in central Wyoming.

The Milky Way over Devil’s Tower, Wyoming. National Park Service.

The Story of Devil’s Tower (Arapahoe)

Courtesy, National Park Service

An Arapahoe lodge was camped at Bear’s Tipi. The father of this lodge was a head lodge and had seven children, five boys and two girls. The two girls had made an arrangement between themselves that the one who found the end rib-bone of a bison should receive the most favors from the brothers. The boys often made trips to other tribes. After a long search one of the girls found an end bone of a bison, but on picking it up she turned into a bear and made some big scratches on her sister’s back. The ‘bear-girl’ told her sister, “If you tell, the dogs will howl and this will be a signal so I will know that you have told.” The sister did tell her brothers and when they heard the dogs howl and give the signal they were scared and started to run.

The bear-girl heard the signal and ran after them. The girl who had told was carrying a ball in her hand which she dropped and accidentally kicked. The ball bounded up on the big, high rock. The bear-girl reached over her sister’s shoulder to grab the ball, slipped and made very big scratches on the big rock and fell on her sister and broke the sister’s chest. The bear-girl climbed to the top of the big, high rock and told her family that there would be seven stars in the shape of a diamond appear in the east; she said the first star out would be off to one side and would be brighter than the other stars. The first star would be called “Broken Chest Star.”

From this time on, the Arapahoes called this big, high rock “Bear’s Tipi.”

This story was told by Sherman Sage, who learned it from his father, Straight-Old-Man (who in turned learned it from his father, Drying-Up-Hide). It was recorded on August 19, 1932.

 

To read more Native American stories about Devil’s Tower, click here, or go to https://www.nps.gov/deto/learn/historyculture/first-stories.htm.