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Eye on the Sky: The Full Beaver Eclipse is Here!

Hello once again fellow astrophiles! Well, November is finally here and I for one am so glad. It’s one of my favorite months! After all, what’s not to like? Cool air, no bugs, hazeless skies, and a giant turkey meal to top it all off. It’s also a great month to get some star gazing in before winter, for those whose interest in the sky doesn’t extend to freezing their tootsies off.

This month’s full Beaver Moon occurs in the early morning of November 19

This month’s full Beaver Moon occurs in the early morning of November 19. Now, before your mind goes in the gutter, just be aware that this name comes from the fact that November is when beavers like to start getting ready for cold weather by building their winter dams by light of the full Moon. Although some people say it’s named for the fact that it’s also a good time for hunters to set beaver traps before things get nasty and the rivers freeze over.

The beavers might get a shock this year though when they look up and see part of the full Moon turning red. That’s right, there’s also going to be a partial lunar eclipse this month. It starts on November 19th at 2:18 am and ends at 5:47 am – definitely one for the night owls. One interesting thing about eclipses is that they always come in pairs. There is always a solar eclipse about two weeks before or after a lunar eclipse. So, where is the associated solar eclipse this time, you ask? It’s in Antarctica! You might as well go trap some beavers, because you’re probably not going to see that one.

I was outside observing one night when all of a sudden I noticed a Subaru in the sky!

I noticed something recently that’s absolutely infuriating. I was outside observing one night when all of a sudden I noticed a Subaru in the sky! Can you believe it? Those rascals have put up a giant advertising satellite of their logo! Don’t believe me? Then go look for yourself. Just step outside and look to the eastern sky at around 8 pm. There it is! Plain as day.

Ok, so I fibbed a bit. What I’m talking about is actually a star cluster called the Pleiades. It consists of over 1000 hot, blue-white stars, although you can only see a handful of them with the naked eye. The cluster acquired the name “The Seven Sisters” in ancient times, but nobody is quite sure what happened to the seventh sister, as most people can only make out six stars.

Eventually, Zeus turned all the characters of the story into stars and placed them in the sky.

In ancient Greek mythology, the Seven Sisters were the daughters of the Titan Atlas and the Oceanid Pleione. When Atlas and the rest of the Titans went to war with the Olympians to overthrow Zeus, Atlas was punished by being forced to hold the weight of the heavens upon his shoulders. Orion the hunter decided to take full advantage of the situation by pursuing Atlas’ daughters. Eventually, Zeus turned all the characters of the story into stars and placed them in the sky, where Orion continues his pursuit of the Seven Sisters to this day.

Strangely enough, the Pleiades has a long history of being associated with evil. In fact, our modern-day Halloween stems from a ritual performed by the ancient Druids of Celtic Britain which occurred on the night when the Pleiades reached culmination (reached their highest point in the sky). It was thought that on this night the veil separating the living from the dead grew very weak and tenuous. Creepy huh?

To observe the Pleiades, I like to first use my peripheral vision to locate them and then zero in with a pair of binoculars.

To observe the Pleiades, I like to first use my peripheral vision to locate them and then zero in with a pair of binoculars. They may at first appear as just a faint, hazy blob, but binoculars bring hundreds of more stars into view, making for an absolutely spectacular sight!

He didn’t like any of the names put forward, so he decided to name it Subaru

So, what in tarnation was I talking about with all that Subaru stuff? Well, back in the early 1950s six Japanese corporations merged to form Fuji Heavy Industries. The CEO of Fuji wanted to build a car, so he asked his employees to come up with a name for the new vehicle. He didn’t like any of the names put forward, so he decided to name it Subaru, which is the Japanese name for the Pleiades. And to this day the logo showing the six visible stars of the Pleiades, representing the six merged companies, adorns the hoods of cars across the world. I wonder how many people are unaware that they’re driving a starmobile?

Until next time, remember to always keep an Eye on the Sky!

– Barry Pyne, HashtagWV #137. November 2021. Contact the author at offthebeatenpathman@gmail.com

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HashtagWV Art & Entertainment is a high-quality print and digital multimedia platform for all things West Virginia and the greater Appalachian region. The editorial focus is local music, unique shopping, the arts, events, theatre, and food and drinks. tiktok.com/@hashtagwv

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