Sirius, the Dog-star

September 27, 2011 § Leave a comment

Sirius, the Dog-star, is the brightest star in our night sky.  In ancient Egypt the star was known as Sopdet (Greek: Sothis).  Sothis was identified with the goddess Isis, who formed a trinity with her husband Osiris and their son Horus. The ancient Egyptians based their calendar on the heliacal rising of Sirius, which matches the length of our solar year.

The most commonly used proper name of this star comes from the the latin name Sīrius (derived from the Ancient Greek Σείριος, “seirios”, meaning “glowing” or “scorcher”). In Ancient Greece they observed that the rising of the Dog-star is during the hottest part of summer.  Because of its brightness during the hot summer, the star was thought to cause malignant influences during this period, people were said to be “star-struck” (αστροβολητος, “astroboletos”), described as  “burning” or “flaming” in literature. Pliny says that “The most powerful effects are felt on the earth from this star.” When it rises, the seas are troubled, the wines ferment, and still waters are set in motion (Book 2, Ch 40).  The whole sea is sensible to the rising of the star, in some places sea-weeds and fish can be seen floating on the surface because they have been thrown up from the bottom. Among the river-fish, the silurus is said to be particularly affected by the rising of the Dog-star (and at other times set to sleep by thunder) (Book 18, Ch 58). Sirius’ effects on trees has been mentioned before here, regarding favorable times for the felling of trees, and that it causes grafts and young trees to pine away and die (see: The diseases of trees).

Pliny also says that dogs are particularly prone to become rabid during this period. He claims that canine madness is fatal to man during the heat of Sirius and that this is proven by the fact that those bitten have a deadly horror of water. (Book 8, Ch 63). The 30-day period following the star’s appearance came to be known as the Dog days. There are accounts of sacrifices of puppies offered to Sirius, to lessen the malignant emanations of the stars.

In Chinese astrology Sirius is known as the star of the “celestial wolf”.


Occurrences of Sky Phenomena (2)

April 18, 2011 § Leave a comment

I’m in a house that I’ve been in before (in another dream). It’s a white wooden house with two floors. There are many windows on each floor. It’s a light airy house, as if it’s always summer here. On the second floor there is a balcony (or two). I’m looking out through a window of the back of the house and on the evening sky, which is a bluish turquoise, there’s a gigantic moon. It is the biggest moon I’ve ever seen; a large disk in the sky that easily could fit five or six suns; the disk is magenta-coloured, hovering low over the horizon, partly visible through the window. I feel exhilarated, uplifted, I run to find my camera, and to go outside, where I can get a clear shot. I seem to forget the moon, and my camera, as soon as other things come in the way.

Super Moon

March 19, 2011 § 3 Comments

I photographed the supermoon. Now, the moon is closer to the earth than it has been in 18 years.

Due to clouds and snow I missed out on the Geminids meteor shower and the lunar eclipse in December, but tonight the skies were clear enough and dark enough.

Watercolour Moon

February 20, 2011 § 1 Comment

The Sun

February 5, 2011 § Leave a comment


tried to take a picture of the sun, from a moving train, through a dirty window. (The attempts were unsuccessful). The solar disc looked a pale moon; a circular cut-out in the clouds, of the same silvery translucent colour as a seed-pod from the Lunaria rediviva (the Moon violet, or Silver leaf).


The Diseases of Trees

January 18, 2011 § Leave a comment

Like humans, trees can be attacked by maladies. Some afflictions are common for all trees, for instance, attacks by worms, or pain in the limbs. Trees can be afflicted with hunger or indigestion, as well as suffer from excessive fatness (and thus turning themselves into a torch-tree).We can also speak of their bodies as being mutilated.

Sideration, the ill effects caused by the heavens, inflict injuries upon trees. One instance of sideration is a certain heat and dryness that prevails at the rising of the Dog-star, and that causes grafts and young trees to pine away and die.

Both human beings and trees are subjects to diseases of the sinews. For both, the virulence shows itself in either the feet (the roots), or the joints of the fingers (the extremities of the branches that are most distant from the trunk). The first symptom is that the tree is suffering from pain, the affected parts becoming brittle and dry, then follows rapid consumption and ultimately death.

Injuries inflicted by the hand of man are productive of bad effects. Pitch oil and grease are highly detrimental if applied to trees. Trees may also be killed if a circular piece of the bark is removed from around them.  If the bark is removed from the fir and the pine, while the sun is passing through Taurus or Gemini, they will instantly die. In winter however, they are able to withstand the effects of it much longer. This is also the case for holm-oak, the robur and the quercus. If only a narrow circular strip is removed from these trees, there will be no visible injuries. But in the case of the weaker trees, the same operation, even if only performed on one side, will be sure to kill them.

When the roots of a tree are cut, the result should be death.

Trees will also kill one another. For example, by their shade, or density of their foliage. And ivy, by clinging to a tree, will strangle it. It is in the nature of some plants to injure other plants, for instance, the radish and its effect on the vine. It was from this observation that Androcydes used the radish in his antidote for drunkenness, recommending it to be eaten when drinking wine.

(Book 17, Chapter 37)

The Geminids

December 13, 2010 § 1 Comment

“Geminids are slower than other shooting stars and are known to make beautiful long arcs across the sky. This could be because they’re born of debris from a dormant comet and so are made mostly of hard, sun-baked rock that takes longer to burn up in Earth’s atmosphere, experts suggest.”

An almost unreal Geminid, from last year’s meteor shower: National Geographic

“Go outside, find a dark spot and look NNE near the constelation of Gemini for the Geminids radiant. The best time to view the Geminids is from around midnight to dawn. They are of average speed but very colourful.”

2010 the meteor shower is peaking on the 13th and 14th of December

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