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By Jupiter!

A blog about the stars, astronomy gifts, and other starry musings by the folks behind Indigo Night.

New horizon: City lake

by Van Wymelenberg
March 11, 2010

We just worked up a new horizon illustration: City lake. It’s based on the area of Wind Point, Wisconsin. A customer called us and asked for help finding something in our catalog that was evocative of this area — along the shore of Lake Michigan, populated, but still with a rural feel. We didn’t have anything that we felt was a close match, and so, as per our standing offer, we developed a horizon and added it to the catalog to fill this specific need. We even added the lighthouse at Wind Point for her, although this will not show up in the horizon viewer on the order page.

A bright gibbous moon lights west in the midnight sky with Gemini’s stellar brace, Castor and Pollux, just below, and Saturn with Regulus – heart of the Lion – above, an exceptionally close and beautiful pairing in Leo.

A quote from Jung

by Van Wymelenberg
March 10, 2010

We are born in a given moment, in a given place and, like vintage wine, we have the qualities of the year and of the season of which we are born. Carl Jung

This quote came through for an order the other day. A print for someone’s birth sky. I’ve been looking for this quote for a while. I think I first came across it when I was reading Man and His Symbols. That’s the book every college student (in the Fine Arts at least… ok, probably not Engineering) was reading in the 60s and 70s. That, and Campbell’s Hero With a Thousand Faces. I mentioned Jung in our brief text concerning the birthday night sky print, and I’ve always wanted the exact reference. I wonder about the guy getting this print, if he’s really of the ‘age’ he was born. As I recall, he was born in 1964. So, 46 this year. That’s really about the time we settle comfortably into who we are.

That’s the fun and strange part of my job, thinking about you all. What moments are you remembering? These quotes. Our night sky prints with these quotes. How are they meaningful, clever, fun or touching? To whom? And all the walls where the prints hang, the homes, the lives. Who reads them… maybe pausing, pondering, drink in hand, at some kind of party, somewhere. Nebraska? California? what are they thinking, what are they saying as they turn to the person next to them?

Love and Honey

by Van Wymelenberg
March 05, 2010

By the light (not the dark but the light)
Of the silvery moon (not the sun but the moon)
I wanna spoon (not croon, but spoon)
To my honey I’ll croon love’s tune
Honey moon, honey moon, honey moon
Keep a-shinin’ in June
Your silv’ry beams will bring love’s dreams
We’ll be cuddlin’ soon
By the silvery moon
The silv’ry moon…

Here at Indigo Night, a graphic chosen to commemorate a honeymoon is one of the more popular prints. I have noticed that they are usually ordered by the new bride for her adoring husband and a majority of the destinations are somewhere tropical; a place with warm sand, clear water, and a view of some of the more southern constellations such as Crux, the “Southern Cross,” and beautiful Argo Navis (or just Argo), an enormous starry ‘Ship’ made up of constellations Carina, the Keel, Vela, the Sail, Puppis, the Stern, and Pyxis, the Mariner’s Compass.

Looking up these popular locations is one of the favorite parts of my job. I vicariously fly down to these beaches via Google Earth in search of the longitude and latitude coordinates. While reggae is playing on our Pandora station, I click through little blue squares of St. Thomas, Riveria Maya, Ochos Rios, Waikiki and I almost feel like I am there. Almost….

Back to my reality that is the Virginia winter… an order came through recently, remembering a Honeymoon trip to Antigua. The date happened to be for a full moon in March, a moon we call the ‘Sugar Moon.’ (There are many names for the full moon in March: Lenten, Crow, Worm, Crust, Sap, Sugar, Chaste, Death… depending on the culture you’re quoting, but Sugar is our preference.) The Headline for this print read: Our Honey Moon Night.

Hmmm. Sugar Moon on the Honey Moon. I got to thinking… what’s up with ‘honeymoon?’ Is it related to the ‘Honey Moon’?

I always like to start the hunt for derivation with my trusted source, the OED. The Oxford English Dictionary. It defines honeymoon this way: The first month after marriage, when there is nothing but tenderness and pleasure (Samuel Johnson); originally having no reference to the period of a month, but comparing the mutual affection of newly-married persons to the changing moon which is no sooner full than it begins to wane…

The OED often cites Johnson, the English scholar who completed work in 1755 on the first authoritative dictionary of the English language. His dictionary was the gold standard source authority on all things ‘words’ until 1928 when the OED was first published. Johnson was probably quoting an earlier lexicographer, Richard Huloet, who defines the word in his 1552 Abcedarium Anglico-Latinum pro Tyrunculis – the center piece of his Latin-English teaching method…

Hony mone, a terme prouerbially applied to such as be newe maried, whiche wyll not fall out at the fyrste, but thone loueth the other at the beginnynge excedyngly, the likelyhode of theyr exceadynge love appearing to aswage, ye which time the vulgar people cal the hony mone.

(Honeymoon, a term proverbially applied to the newly-married, who will not fall out [argue] at first, but they love the other at the beginning exceedingly, the likelihood of their exceeding love appearing to assuage [make blissfully smooth any disagreement]; this is commonly called the honeymoon.)

The little I’ve read of Huloet indicates he was quite a wit, and that his definitions sometimes tended to be ‘informal.’

None of these early sources tell us the origin of the term. While they do define the term, that definition seems more a wry offering than a hard fact. With no exact derivation available, we are left to speculate…

Perhaps the origin of the word is based upon the practice of the newly married drinking mead (a honey-based drink) during the first month (“moon”) of marriage. Weddings once commonly took place around the time of the solstice – in that small window of time after the crops were in, at the start of the growing season… The drink supposedly increased libido and fertility. Tradition had it that the bride’s family supplied mead to the couple… a wonderful indulgence. A special goblet was given with which to imbibe the mead, and this tradition is still evident today… the wedding goblet.

This is the most common story I find as I root around the usual sources.

Another theory states that ‘honeymoon’ is from the Norse word ‘hjunottsmanathr’ – the practice of ‘kidnapping a bride’ (let’s assume that means elopement) and keeping her from her family until the all important ability to conceive is assured, at which time the marriage can be formalized. I’ve read a few articles that refute this, mostly on the point that the Norse and English language had lost their common ground long before honey moon/honeymoon came into use. Who’s to say?

I’ll offer my own simple theory. A little variation on the mead, but of the mead. Many cultures based their calendars of the cycle of the moon. Each moon had a name that helped define or celebrate a season: when to plant, when to harvest. Think ‘Harvest Moon’ or ‘Moon Before Yule’ or the ‘Budding Moon.’ I know that the ‘Honey Moon’ is a moon that is associated with late spring or early summer, usually the full moon before the summer solstice. I haven’t been able to trace this back to a particular culture, but I’m working on it. The oldest source I find in the 1750 Farmer’s Almanac.

It’s seems so easy… the ‘Honey Moon’ takes place at about the time when honey is first available from the hive, late May or early June. This is also the season of marriage. And, with the availability of honey, a wonderful source of fermentation, mead. So my take is that… as ‘Honey Moon’ was one of the named moons and it marked the time when the sap was running and our friends the bees were in their first honey… and… as this was also the season of love and marriage… sweet as honey, it being all ‘tenderness and pleasure,’ I think ‘Honeymoon’ was associated with each of these, and therefore both of these. (And the mead, well, that too. But mostly love and honey.) And, taking it that last step further, ‘moon’ was commonly word for a period of time, about a month.

Honeymoon, from ‘Honey Moon,’ meaning sweet love at the marrying time. Any thoughts on this? As far as ‘new’ love waxing to ‘fullness’ as the moon does, then inevitably ‘waning’ with familiarity… as stated in the OED, and Johnson. I’ll buy that too. I’ve fallen in love, and I’ve married, and it can’t always be the first blush of love. But the thing about love and the moon is that they somehow always get back to being new, and that’s the interesting part.

(Posted by Van, with Anna)

New horizon: Havana

by Van Wymelenberg
March 03, 2010

Just a quick note to let you know we’ve finished the development on our Havana horizon. It’s up and available online.

We’re always looking for horizon ideas… share your thoughts with us by phone at 866-565-4500 or email us thorough the link on the home page.

We are trying to develop China horizons this spring, but are not having much luck tracking down good images. If you have knowledge of a good source for stock images out of China let us know.

The quote on the print, by the way, is from the movie Havana. What a time that must have been.

On the horizon

by Van Wymelenberg
February 22, 2010

Hello Indigo blog readers, this is Morgan King interrupting your usual blog author to explain all about making custom horizons for your Indigo Night prints based on your photographs. I’ve been doing the graphic design work for Indigo for many years, and have created lots of unique horizons for our customers in that time. Now Indigo Night is formally offering the service to everyone, so I’m here to explain how it works and what we require to make it happen!

There are several factors to consider when choosing the appropriate photograph for us work with – it can be done from less exacting images, but your satisfaction is more likely from photos that follow as many of these guidelines as possible:

  • Photos taken at sunset or sunrise are always the easiest and fastest to work from – it keeps the image from having sharp shadows while still having a distinct separation of earth and sky, which is excellent conditions for digitally extracting the horizon. Night time photos are ok, obviously, and they often have the benefit of having all the lights in the area being turned on, but if the skyline disappears into the dark of night, it can be time consuming to cut it out accurately.

  • The horizon part of the image should be as short and wide as possible! Think PANORAMA. The most common difficulty we encounter is the natural tendency to center the image, to ‘fill the frame’ with your subject: that makes for a great photo, but for the night sky print we need room for the sky. The horizon elements should be about 1/5 of the overall print area. It still needs to stretch across the length of the image, too. There’s a lot of ways to massage an image into fitting, but the better fit it is from the start, the better! Back up!

  • The photograph should be as large and high resolution as possible. Digital cameras made in the last few years usually take photos that are high enough resolution to work for an Indigo Night print, but small images, such as those taken from cellphone cameras, are usually too small and grainy to be manipulated and printed at a quality that matches the rest of the Indigo print. We don’t require the images to be full print resolution (300ppi), but the larger and higher resolution the image, the better and more quickly the image will be able to be created. At the risk of stating the obvious, the print needs to belong to you.

  • Try to choose an image that’s as unpopulated as possible – photographs with a lot of people can be problematic in several ways. Since Indigo Night tries to choose the best possible time in the night to get the moon, planets, and the best constellations visible, the exact time that the print is made for can vary quite a bit, so a photo that was taken
    at 6pm after a wedding might need to be used for a print that has stars from just before midnight, so including people would be pretty incongruous. Another reason not to include people in the photo is that the night sky print has a quiet, still beauty to it, and people frozen in motion can weaken the overall effect and lessen the timeless gracefulness of it. Finally, removing people from an image, while certainly possible, greatly increases the amount of time it takes to create the image!

Keeping those few guidelines in mind, we can work together to create a totally unique skyline! If you have any questions about how this process works or if an image is suitable for a custom horizon, please contact us! Even if the photo you’re dreaming of using doesn’t meet the exact guidelines, that doesn’t mean we can’t give it a shot – we’ve pulled off some amazing transformations in the past! Also, if you have a creative or unique idea you’d like to pursue with your custom horizon, we’re open to discussing unusual requests!

If the photograph seems like a good addition to our catalog we’ll do the development for free. If it’s just going to be for you and you alone, we’ll shoot you a quote based on your photograph. Prices usually fall between $50 and $100, rarely more, and sometimes less, especially if it’s a quick and simple rendering, such as adding your own steeple into one of our existing treelines. (By the way, that’s a really special thing to do for an milestone anniversary gift — if you can track down the steeple from the church where the long married couple tied the knot!)

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Just Because

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.

Wedding Anniversaries

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.

New Baby

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.

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