Monday, November 1, 2010

Halloween, My Car, and the Night Sky

Out of all of the superstitions that people have come up with, astrology makes the most sense to me.  I can imagine an ancient person watching the sky and being amazed by how the change of seasons coincide with the change in the stars' position from one night to the next.  It's not far of a leap to think that the position of the stars affected the seasons.

Most people do not plan their lives around the stars anymore, but there are some artifacts of astrology that are still observed.  One of those artifacts is the date of Halloween.  The date of Halloween is October 31st because that used to be the date that the Pleiades would be at their highest at midnight.  This date was set several thousand years ago, and due to the movement of the galaxy, the Pleiades reach their highest point at midnight in mid-November.

The belief was that a bridge between heaven and Earth was formed on Halloween and the dead were able to move back and forth.  Most of our traditions were formed out of this belief.

The Pleiades, or the seven sisters is an open cluster of stars located in the constellation Taurus.  It is one of the Messier objects (M45), and is visible to the naked eye.  A picture I took of the Pleiades is below.  The Earth's rotation and the length of the exposure causes the double images of the stars.
My Photo of the Pleiades
Here is a professional photo from Wikipedia.
A Professional Photo
You may be wondering what is the connection between Halloween and my car.  The Japanese name for the Pleiades is Subaru.  Look at the picture of the logo from my car and compare with the pictures above.