MISSION OF THIS OBSERVING PROGRAM
OBSOLETE CONSTELLATIONS PORTION
The mission of this section is to observe the star patterns that were once considered constellations, but have been discarded over time. Still, many have interesting patterns and enjoyable views of stars in the “empty” spaces between the official star groups.
OTHER CULTURES PORTION
The mission of this section is to encourage people to see these star patterns in a new way. True, most have official modern assignments as constellations or asterisms. But knowing that thousands of years ago, another culture saw the same stars in a different way, with amazing tales of hunts, kingdoms, war, love, and all the things we still feel today, has given me fresh enjoyment of the night sky, and the many peoples that have seen them with me.
ORIGINATION OF THIS PROGRAM
At a star party in 2019, I attended a talk on the Astronomical League (AL) observing programs, and several people stated there needed to be more beginner level programs that did not require expensive equipment and time commitments that most people cannot meet. My response was to develop one.
I considered the Obsolete Constellations as first choice. My plan was for Other Cultures to be a separate program, so I had concentrated on the Obsolete Constellations. The AL required a more substantial program, so I suggested merging the two, and had about a week to get Other Cultures ready for submittal. For the Other Cultures portion, I had no real sense of what would be available regarding both resources and the actual patterns to observe. As I fleshed the list out, and then began researching and observing them myself, I became fascinated with the subject.
My previous exposure had been mainly American Indian astronomy. My daughter is Choctaw, and a friend of mine is Osage and very astute on their beliefs. As a process engineer, I was responsible for the Chaco Canyon area in New Mexico and built many pipelines and facilities in 2014-2015. One of my first priorities was to extinguish the oil well flares by piping the produced natural gas away. There were environmental and permitting concerns, but the company was concerned about the effect of lighting up the night sky. Chaco Culture National Historical Park had just been named an IDA Dark Sky Place in 2013. Visiting the many ancient astronomy sites there and throughout the area, my interest was piqued even more.
Further development of the Other Cultures list was also intriguing. A friend in Hawaii tipped me on to good webcasts and other info for Pacific Islanders. At OzSky Star Safari I had visited a few Aboriginal sites. So, the pieces sort of fell into place. My interest in the subject had been percolating for years, off and on, but I had never committed to a plan to observe and study. There didn’t seem to be plans out there, so I developed one (very quickly).