Volume XVII, Issue 31 # July 30 - August 5, 2009

Sky Watch

by J. Alex Knoll

Savor the Season with
a Fresh Loaf of Bread

With summer on the wane, can winter be far off?

Antares, the bright orange star marking the heart of the scorpion Scorpius, shines left of the waxing gibbous moon after dusk Thursday the 30th and to the right of the moon Friday. As the moon waxes over the weekend, it passes through the faint constellation Sagittarius, the spout of its teapot-shape pouring toward the southern horizon.

Not until Wednesday’s full Corn Moon does it join another significantly bright object, the great planet Jupiter, rising in the east-southeast at twilight.

From dusk till nearly dawn, Jupiter rules the heavens. But a couple hours before sunrise, around 6:05 this week, brilliant morning star Venus rises in the northeast, accompanied by ruddy Mars and the vivid constellations of winter. Look 20 degrees to Venus’ upper right for Mars and twinkling Aldebaran a little farther on. The distinct shape of Orion hugs the horizon, with Betelgeuse 15 degrees from Venus. High above Venus shines golden Capella, while below it are the Gemini twins Castor and Pollux.

Saturday, August 1 marks Lammas, one of four cross-quarter days midway between a solstice and an equinox. Lammas comes from the Old English hlaf, meaning loaf, and maesse, meaning feast. In those days, it marked the end of summer and the beginning of autumn and was a thanksgiving of sorts for the first fruits of the harvest.

The celebration began at sunset August 1 with bonfires lit to strengthen the waning sun. At the center of the festival was bread baked from the first grains of the season, and the feasting and merriment continued until sunset the next day. Then it was off to the fields to begin the harvest in earnest in hopes of surviving the coming winter.

Illustration: © Copyright 1925 M.C. Escher/Cordon Art-Baarn-Holland; Graphics: © Copyright 2009 Pacific Publishers. Reprinted by permission from the Tidelog graphic almanac. Bound copies of the annual Tidelog for Chesapeake Bay are $14.95 ppd. from Pacific Publishers, Box 480, Bolinas, CA 94924. Phone 415-868-2909. Weather affects tides. This information is believed to be reliable but no guarantee of accuracy is made by Bay Weekly or Pacific Publishers. The actual layout of Tidelog differs from that used in Bay Weekly. Tidelog graphics are repositioned to reflect Bay Weekly’s distribution cycle.Tides are based on National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and are positioned to coincide with high and low tides of Tidelog.