Starry Skies

ICTMN Staff
5/17/11

This juxtaposed vision of the Milky Way against Tenerife's El Teide mountain is really from a Saharan sandstorm, photographer Terje Sorgjerd says on his Vimeo page.

"A large sandstorm hit the Sahara Desert on the 9th April and at approx 3am in the night the sandstorm hit me, making it nearly impossible to see the sky with my own eyes," he wrote in the introduction to this video. "Interestingly enough my camera was set for a five-hour sequence of the Milky Way during this time, and I was sure my whole scene was ruined. To my surprise, my camera had managed to capture the sandstorm, which was backlit by Grand Canary Island making, it look like golden clouds."

Closer to home, just about every Native culture on Turtle Island has its own set of star stories.

The stories can even differ between villages, as is evident in traditional O'odham stories recounted in the Green Valley News & Sun, Arizona. There's the version that involves Coyote, "a trickster who doesn’t listen well and always ends up in trouble," the newspaper reported. Rooting around in a kitchen looking for food, Coyote heard someone coming, grabbed the first thing at hand—a bag of flour—and fled up into the sky. The bag tore open, spilling a swathe of flower and creating the Milky Way.

Alternatively, there's the story of the grandfather and his grandson. The boy went to live in the sky, spurred by the old man's mistreatment of him. The grandfather missed him and begged him to come back. The boy instead sent white tepary beans, which is what the gray streak across the sky was made of, and told his grandfather that he could look up and see him across the sky any time he missed his grandson, according to the legend.

There are legions more tales. Here, watch the Cherokee compare their star stories to those of NASA.

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