At this time of year the asterism of the Winter Hexagon rises up in the East after sunset, six bright stars that create the pattern of a six-pointed star, led by Sirius, the brightest star in our sky. This star pattern is uniquely connected to the mystery of this season, and is augmented now by the presence of Venus in the morning sky, moving through the region of Virgo.
The Winter Hexagon by night and Venus at dawn brings to mind the Russian folktale of Baboushka and the Three Kings, in which an elderly woman is visited by three majestic strangers journeying to a sacred birth, which is indicated to them by the presence of a unique star in the sky. Baboushka is proud of keeping her hut neat and tidy and she invites the strangers in, but they decline, stating they must follow the star in search of the child.
They invite her to join them instead, but Baboushka declines, on account of her chores. In the morning, she rethinks her decision, and goes out to look for the kings and the child. Everywhere she goes she asks for them, but nowhere does she find them.
Every year at this time, Baboushka renews her search, leaving gifts for children wherever she goes.
In the sky we can imagine Venus as Baboushka, and her dedication to keeping her house tidy is related to Virgo, which is often associated with routine. Then on Saturday, December 9, 2023 this week, a spectacular apparition will appear two hours before sunrise in the East, when the Moon passes by Venus. This apparition is like the precession of the Kings, something not to be missed!
With star shine,
This episode of The Storyteller’s Night Sky aired on Interlochen Public Radio Monday, December 4, 2023 and can be heard on podcasts everywhere at anytime. Also note that on Saturday, December 9, 2023 the Moon and Venus will create a spectacular scene in the morning sky, with Moon like the three kings, come to visit Venus-Baboushka on their way to the sacred birth of this season. Image from Sky&Telescope.