These are the longest days of the year, and Thursday the 21st is solstice, the peak of the solar tide, splitting Earth time in two, the Sun leaving Early Summer and Gemini, entering Deep Summer and Cancer.
Obscured by daylight, the consellations that accompany the sign of Cancer during the day include Orion in the middle of the southern sky at noon, the potent Dog Star, Sirius, low behind him. Pisces lies in the west, Leo in the east, Draco in the north.
Even though these stargroups may be invisible in the sunlight, the landscape on Earth offers markers that reveal the sky map hidden in the light of the longest days of the year:
The orange ditch lilies, accompanied by pink-flowered thistles and yellow sweet clover, track the stellar course and bookend the solar passage of Early Summer. Those flowers begin their flowering at the close of May, come to full bloom just before solstice and then giveway to the easy markers of July, the white Queen Anne’s lace and the yellow black-eyed Susans that dominate the roadsides well into Leo and the Dog Days of Deep Summer.
And so the landscape itself is the skychart. If you look at the flowers around your, you become an astronomer.
This is Bill Felker with Poor Will’s Almanack. I’ll be back again next week with notes for the First Week of Deep Summer. In the meantime, look for lilies in the fields, their petals simple signs of solstice.