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Constellations and Guiding Stars

My family inherited a love for the outdoors from our grandparents.  One grandfather spent his career as a civil engineer outdoors riding horses, surveying property lines and collecting arrowheads in the hills of southern Utah.  Another grandfather grew up spending summers herding sheep, and continued his love of the outdoors through camping, boating and fishing.  So many of my childhood memories are wrapped into various camping and road trips. 


During these childhood camping trips, I often stayed up late looking at the stars.  I’d prepare for these star gazing nights by studying our family’s set of encyclopedias and try to identify the various constellations. Sometimes I would get frustrated when I couldn’t find a specific constellation. I found that I needed a graphic superimposed on the star pattern to be able to visually build or “see” the Momma Bear of Ursa Major (the big dipper) or the fierce lion found in the crooked neck pattern of the stars in Leo. 


Why would a child be able to see and appreciate the stars of the night sky when on a camping trip?  Could it be the absence of the city light?  Could it be parents that were a little more lenient in bed time?  Or could it be a bit of healthy boredom due to the absence of TV, music or rowdy siblings?  


What are some of your guiding stars?  What might be obscuring the guiding stars in your life?  What environment might need to change in order to better visualize the sparkle you seek? 


Even young stargazers realize that in constellations, not every star shines with the same intensity.   Not every constellation looks like the graphic found in the encyclopedia or star gazing app.  Not every connecting line covers the same distance.  The stars are beautiful and numerous on their own, but the art of the constellation becomes more apparent when illustrations build and define the connections. 


When gazing into the night sky, one might find the bright star Regulus and from there visualize the connections creating the image of the fierce lion of the Leo constellation.  Under the light of Leo, one might share the story of Hercules defeating the Nemean lion.  


Before telling your story around the campfire, search out a guiding star or two.  Visualize  the connections that create an image and then tell your story. Build your own constellation. 

 Camie Hodlmair