A blog about the stars, astronomy gifts, and other starry musings by the folks behind Indigo Night.
by Van Wymelenberg
July 17, 2018
There was that time in my 20s when I rode a freight train across Missouri. At night. A summer storm rolled across the prairie, reaching all across the horizon, dry lightning, great booming sharp-edged cracks of thunder, the air electric and heavy with the coming rain. Then hours of rain and dark! (Miserable.) Then, the air scrubbed clean, the long gray false dawn, a waning moon in slow ascent, and briefly, the morning star. That ride is one of my best possessions.
That was Missouri, but I grew up in Wisconsin, and have always followed the Green Bay Packers, though at a distance from here in Virginia. I might only see three or four nationally broadcast games each year, but I'm paying attention. It connects me to my Dad and brother, those years ago, that time.
OK. Freight trains, GB Packers, morning star. Where the hell is this going? Here is the thing: the Packers quarterback, a brilliant fellow named Aaron Rodgers, is spending time with certain someone: Danica Patrick. If you are alive and not living in a cave and scan the news about the Packers this information will come to you.
This caught my particular attention because the name Danica is from the Czech, and it means "Morning Star." The name is a bit unusual. I love it. Strong and lyrical. I've encountered it a few times here at Indigo, given the nature of what we do.
A quick trip to the Wiki page and we have her birthday and place. I had a look, and yes, Venus was in its morning apparition, and clearly visible, the lead player in a quartet of the ancients: Venus rising east in faint Aquarius, Jupiter southwest in Libra, and Mars with Saturn, leading the procession in Virgo. What a beautiful sky. I think that configuration portends excellence with go-karts. I read that in an old college astronomy text.
We don't have a Beloit horizon, but will, no doubt soon. In the meantime I came across this beautiful Tiffany Store Arch Bridge spanning Turtle Creek just outside of town and we worked it up. Behshad, our lead illustrator, did the render.
by Grant Johnson
November 20, 2017
Our annual pre-Solstice sale runs from 'Black Friday' through 'Cyber Monday.' That's from the 24th through the 27th November. All orders placed with the following code: Solstice_21 will be discounted 21%.
Note that these orders are for Christmas delivery, and not our usual 3 to 4 days turn-around. You'll have them for Christmas, probably well before Christmas, so not to panic. Order early, and tell your friends.
by Van Wymelenberg
April 28, 2017
Deep overcast last night, no chance for any observation of that whisper thin crescent, but tonight promises to be clear with good seeing across the valley, the air scrubbed clean by last night's rain.
Look for the crescent moon just a little north of west, about 15° above the horizon as night falls, 9:15 to 9:30ish. As it darkens, Mars will show, a ruddy colored star just to the right, close with the Pleiades, the beautiful Taurus open star cluster showing 5 or 6 faint blue stars, naked eye - depending on your eyesight. It's a lovely sight through binoculars if you have a chance. Because of it's position just off the ecliptic it's often close with the moon or planets, and tonight's grouping is with Mars and the crescent moon especially close and beautiful. Have a look. Take your dog for a walk or go out with your spouse and pretend it's high school.
The V shaped group of stars is the Hyades cluster, and the tightly grouped jewel box to the right, the Pleiades. The belt stars or Orion show left, at the edge of the frame. The bright object below the Pleiades is Venus. Tonight's view will be similar... with the moon and Mars positioned center. This image from Eileen Claffy via EarthSky.org.
Across the sky, rising east, brilliant Jupiter continues its slow movement through the Virgo constellation. The star below is Spica; above, Porrima and fainter ZaviJava. Saturn rises with Scorpius around midnight.
The moon will show higher in the sky at nightfall on Saturday – at 18% or so amid stars of Orion (at the upraised sword) and higher still on Sunday, in the embrace of Gemini, about a 27% crescent.
Remember, a dreamer can always find their way by moonlight.
by Grant Johnson
April 27, 2017
If you can find a clear view west at nightfall, take some to look for a whisper thin crescent moon, soft in the gloaming, close with Mars and the Pleiades. (Here in Charlottesville I'll be out about 9:15 or so with binoculars... local moonset is 9:33.)
Think about the ancient observational astronomers. So much depends (on the red wheel barrow glazed with rain, and) on a clear view west. The moon tonight will only be about 4% illuminated, so a real observational challenge. Tomorrow will be much easier -- a beautifully satisfying view, with the moon at about 9% illumination, close with the Hyades, Mars and the Pleiades. Try for astronomical twilight (we're talking DARK DARK, not just DARK: technically when the sun is 18° below the horizon, the end of "astronomical twilight"). That's about 9:45 local time for us... and should be the same for all locations roughly in the middle of their time zones. Tonight's moon will have set by then, but tomorrow's will still be closing on the distant rim.
This is a 27 hour old moon photographed by Laurent Laveder a brilliant fellow and a truly gifted photographer (http://www.laurentlaveder.com). Tonight's moon will be 25 hours old.
Something from Wikipedia: Traditionally, in the Islamic calendar, the first day of each month is the day (beginning at sunset) of the first sighting of the hilal (crescent moon) shortly after sunset. If the hilal is not observed immediately after the 29th day of a month (either because clouds block its view or because the western sky is still too bright when the moon sets), then the day that begins at that sunset is the 30th. Such a sighting has to be made by one or more trustworthy men testifying before a committee of Muslim leaders. Determining the most likely day that the hilal could be observed was a motivation for Muslim interest in astronomy, which put Islam in the forefront of that science for many centuries.
Clear skies, Van
by Van Wymelenberg
April 26, 2017
Sunset about 8 tonight, nightfall at about 9 pm here in Charlottesvile, 38N and 78W. Looking west, Orion is still in view, but soon to be lost after the long winter run, gone by mid May, re-appearing in the morning sky mid summer. Always nice to see an old friend.
Look for rose-hued Mars with the Pleiades about 10° above the west horizon. Lovely through binoculars. Aldebaran, the 'Follower' (of the Pleiades) is just to the left in the Hyades.
Rising Southeast, same time, nightfall, about 30° above the horizon, brilliant Jupiter shows in Virgo, braced by two fainter celestial lights, the Virgo lucida Spica, and Porrima, the gamma. The beta star, Zavijava, shows in procession, just below the tail of the Lion, Denebola. Love these names from the arabic. I should have named my dog Zavijava. She is a podengo, after all.
The moon was officially 'new' this morning... so no moon tonight. As night progresses, majestic Scorpius rises late, toward midnight, with Saturn following in faint Ophiuchus, cresting the treetops about 1.
And, so late it's early, rising at 4:30 and coming into view in the lightening sky, about 5, radiant Venus, in it's 'Morning Star' apparition, at the circlet in sky-spanning Pisces. So beautiful.
The night sky print which arrives for no particular reason, other than to celebrate the gift of love that is your beloved, is cherished like no other.
Each of us has a story that begins in a single moment. Poets and philosophers from Shakespeare to Tennyson, from Moore to Jung, share a common fascination with the night sky at the moment of birth, and the idea that the moon and stars stand in timeless, silent witness to this moment.
The night sky print, showing the moon and stars just as they appeared on the night you met, the moment of your first kiss, or your wedding night, is an exceptional anniversary gift. Appropriate for any year, especially so for the 1st anniversary, the year of the ‘paper’ gift.
The night sky print, showing the moon and stars just as they appeared on the child’s first starry night, with your words – funny, wise, sweet, hopeful, perhaps a favorite quote from a story or song – makes a beautiful keepsake.