2018: Descent of the Summer Triangle, Rise of the Winter Circle

Alex Wierbinski's picture

By Alex Wierbinski - Posted on 04 November 2018


Descent of the Summer Triangle,
Rise of the Winter Circle

November 3, 2018


At Sunset today we can easily find the Summer Triangle, as its bright stars dominate the center of the sky, directly above our heads.

“Paper” Sky Map
with link to
Digital Star Wheel

Eastern Horizon
We can also observe the first rise of the Winter Circle, with the rise of Capella in Auriga out of the Northeast at Sunset, giving us our first look at the rising Winter Circle at Sunset, an event also marking out for us the beginning of the seasonal end of the Summer Triangle. By 10 pm PST we are watching Orion rise out of the East, and by Midnight we can see the full structure of the Winter Circle risen, as Sirius leading the Big Dog finally rises above the horizon, completing the Winter Circle.

Western Edge
On the other side of our Night Sky, along the Western Horizon at Midnight, we are observing Altair and Vega of the Summer Triangle poised just above the Western Horizon, with Deneb just above them, their descent almost perfectly balanced and timed with the rising bright stars of the Winter Circle rising out of the East.

Splitting the Difference
We’re entering the stellar season where the characteristic star formations of neither Summer nor Winter are ascendant in the Night Sky, but split the Night Skies between themselves.


The Bottom Line

I put this in the Trails Forum because of the ancient and traditional relationship between the celestial season and terrestrial seasons. The annual changes in our celestial seasons are relatively, “set,” fixed and established by the mechanics of our universe itself, who's movements generate the fundamental, "clock and compass," we are going to draw on to establish the bearings, our actual clock time, and to measure the length of our days and nights.
On the other hand, our, "terrestrial seasons," are quite variable, being affected by countless internal biological influences, and externally, by variables almost completely controlled by the laws of Nature, composed of what’s happening with our star, variations in our star’s nuke furnaces, and variations of our orbit around it.

Thus, the transitions of our celestial seasons are a comparatively rigid, unchanging celestial yardstick, when contrasted against our constantly changing terrestrial seasons. Our celestial and terrestrial seasons have roughly lined-up for tens of thousands of years, since the end of the last ice age. Now that ancient alignment is broken, with the stars rising and falling at their traditional times, but over a very different planet.

I have looked night-skyward to see our planet’s unchanging celestial seasons lining up with our terrestrial seasons over the length of my lifetime, as have many, many generations before ours, while a quick glance around at our terrestrial seasons today shows radical changes in all of our season’s interrelated inception and ending times, their basic characters, and the weather's fundamental role in ecosystem fertility.

The relationship of our terrestrial seasons with their celestial signpost has been damaged, thrown out of alignment, and everything sentient on our planet feels it.

What’s troubling is that our celestial transitions are now happening above a completely new & different set of seasonal planetary weather patterns, and that these radical changes in the weather have happened over a fraction of the duration of my own short, terrestrial, lifetime. That'd be a slow change of pace for us humans, but are happening at a light-speed rate of changes for our ecology and our planet's fundamental fertiltiy, and our ability to access and harness the fruits of our planet.

Even more troubling than losing our ancient relationship between the Land, the Seasons, and the Stars, is that these changes, this vast mis-alignment between mankind and nature, is just getting started, and the disruptions from this critical imbalance are picking up power, speed, and weight every single day.

The alignment of our celestial and terrestrial calendars has gone way out of whack, once we humans got completely out of, “alignment,” with ourselves and our planet. This began, in this generation, once we sacrificed our own ethical self-restraints on the altars of material corporate greed and political corruption, all in the service of the goal of personal self-gratification, (let's call it uncontrolled desires for, luxury, power, and wealth...), that too many of us now serve as a god, rather than punish as a vice….

Our unconstrained desire has eaten the balances between man and nature, and each other.

The good thing is that imbalances always rectify themselves. The bad thing is that imbalances are naturally resolved by dispelling them, as Nature is now moving to dispel the imbalances caused by us humans.

I am glad I’m old… Nature is not cool at all, when it puts its mind to resolving and dispelling things…

These imbalances will be resolved and dispelled, one way or the other.

Hint: It’s Nature’s way, or the Highway...


On the Trail

Printable Paper Sky Wheels for Field Use

Bringing a customized sky map for navigating the evening halves of our backpacking days opens up whole new vistas of beauty and understanding for our observing...and nowadays dark night skies are as rare as wilderness, so we should soak up as much of both as possible!


Practical Implications

Spring has been coming earlier and earlier, pushing deep into Winter. Fall has been stretching to the very doorstep of Winter.

“Early” and “Late” season backpackers are seeing increased odds of getting, “caught out,” by, "unexpected," storms, temps, & weather activity. Though the temps have risen and the seasons have changed, our planet's alignment with the Sun, despite our changed atmosphere, still allows traditional bits of late-season cold weather to perserver into Spring, and early-season cold weather and storms to break out in Fall.

The earlier or later we begin our trips during the Spring or Fall, "transition," seasons determines our odds of getting, "caught out," by, "unexpected" weather. Well, it's not, "unexpected," now.

Now we Know
Now we know to thicken our kit as we hike deeper into Fall's cool airs and crisp contrasts, and when we push deeper into early Spring's quagmire snowpacks!


Descent of the Summer Triangle into the West

Stars & Constellations

Vega of Lyra,
Deneb of Cygnus,
Altair of Aquila.


Rise of the Winter Circle out of the East

Stars & Constellations


Aldebaran of Taurus,
Rigel of Orion,

Sirius of Canis Major,

Procyon of Canis Minor,

Pollux & Castor of Gemini
Capella of Auriga


“Paper” Sky Map
with link to
Digital Star Wheel



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2018, Summer Triangle, Winter Circle, celestial, terrestrial, seasonal, misalingment, & the Taurids too, on Sunday...


Originally Published
2018-11-03 16:00:36

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