MOTHER's Bi-Monthly 1977 Almanac: Summer Homesteading Tips

Learn how to find star constellations, remove stains, make sassafras tea and use the sun as a compass.


| May/June 1977



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 A star chart, from May and June in 1977, which can be used to help learn plotted constellations in the nighttime sky.


ILLUSTRATION: MOTHER EARTH NEWS STAFF

This may be the first generation to set foot on the moon and shoot rocket probes into the reaches of outer space. But, man for man and woman for woman, great granddad and great grandmother — or, for that matter, almost any primitive tribe of almost any past age — knew a lot more about identifying the stars and planets in the night sky than most of us currently do.

And so, with the help of Guy Ottewell (author of Astronomical Calendar 1977), MOTHER is going to try to change all that.

Star Constellations

Most any schoolchild can tell you that we experience alternating periods of light and dark (day and night) because the earth rotates on its axis once each 24 hours. Few people, however, realize that we live under a canopy of stars — day and night ( not just at night) — during every one of those 24 hours.

Nope. The stars don't "come out" only when the sun "goes down." They're up there all the time. We seldom see them during the day, though, because Ole Sol (which is "only" 93 million miles from us) bathes the illuminated side of the earth with rays bright enough to overpower and "blot out" the much weaker light reaching us from stars thousands of light years (each of which is roughly equal to six million million miles) away.

So. The stars are "out there" all the time. But we usually see them only when our particular spot on the earth's surface is rotated away from the sun ... and our eyes are thus shaded enough from Ole Sol's rays to allow us to see them.

Ah, but there's something else we must bear in mind too: While the planet we ride through space spins on its axis once each 24 hours ... it also swings (or "revolves") — once every 365 1/4 days — in a great circle around the sun. For this reason, we look out at the night sky from a slightly different point in space at any given time each evening than we looked out from at the same time the evening before. And, as a result, we have a slightly different view of the stars than we had at that time on the preceding night.





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