Cloudy Nights

Mention the words “cloudy night” to a star gazer, and they’ll mumble and grumble and say something like “Might as well get some sleep.” Of course in the southern hemisphere this takes on a whole different meaning. Cloudy night in this treasure trove of heavenly delights refers to an evening exploring our companion galaxies, the large and small Magellanic Clouds. And for northern star gazers this is very high (if not number 1) on the must see list. How amazing it must be to see another galaxy so large that you could fit 20 full moons across its diameter. That’s the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC), and for the Small Magellanic Cloud (SMC) we’re looking at about 9 full moons. Let’s spend a moment exploring these clouds.

The Sky of December – Solar and Lunar Calendars

Closer to the equator, the year is measured with lunisolar calendars. In the middle east the Muslims have a lunar calendar, their new year is marked by the Ramadan which is precisely calculated by the phases of the Moon. In the far east the Chinese have a lunar calendar too and they also use Jupiter to mark the time, which is why the Chinese zodiac is on a twelve years cycle, exactly the time it takes Jupiter to move around the sun once. In India they also have a lunar calendar, vedic astrology is based on the mansions of the moon, also known as nakshatras.