March 6, 2016

At 3:32 am, the constellation Scorpio announced the annual arrival of The Milky Way into the night skies of the Northern Hemisphere.

Welcome back my friend.

Arch Rock / Joshua Tree, California
Photography by Casey Kiernan

The Coyote and the Milky Way



In ancient times, the night sky was pitch black.

The darkness made it very hard for anyone to find their way at night. The Navajo Fire God decided that he would create Stars and place them in the night sky so that travelers could find their way. To do this, the Navajo Fire God created a bunch of stars in his village and then he carried them out into the desert at night in his blanket so that he could illuminate the night sky.

the trickster,
followed the Navajo Fire God
out into the darkness.

The Fire God began placing the stars into the night sky one-by-one - lighting each star on fire as he placed it. The Fire God also made the constellations this way, by carefully arranging the stars in the sky to form patterns which travelers could follow on their journey. He lit the constellation stars on fire in the same manner. With each star the Navajo Fire God lit in the sky, the night sky got brighter, and brighter, and brighter! 

But, Coyote became very impatient
with the Fire God. 

Coyote decided that it was taking way too long to light the entire night sky - one-star-at-a-time! So, Coyote sneaked up behind the Fire God, grabbed his blanket and tossed all of the remaining stars into the night sky - all at once! - thus forming the Milky Way - the path of stars across the night sky. 

The Fire God was unable to light all of the stars that Coyote had tossed into the sky. That is why some stars in the Milky Way are dimmer than others, still to this day.



Now, Coyote is always getting into trouble,... but I'm not sure whether we should scold Coyote this time - or thank him! You'll just have to go outside on a star-filled night - look up - and decide for yourself! And while you are out there, in the desert, under the stars - listen carefully - and maybe you'll hear Coyote - he still likes to roam the desert at night...

...under the light of the Milky Way.