Looking Up: Here Comes The Sun...

Aug 27, 2018

This week on Looking Up Bruce Bookout illuminates us on the historic and cultural aspects of that special star nearest to us.

Sun mask with facial features of August #2 (the strong) as Apollo
Credit Johann Melchior Dinglinger / wikimedia commons / public domain

The most obvious celestial object and most influential is the Sun.  Every ancient culture around the world saw the Sun as some form of deity. There are over a hundred difference names of the Sun, as either a god or goddess, in the various cultures of the world.  Consider how many song lyrics speak of the Sun.

The most ancient Neolithic stories depict the Sun being carried by a deity on a barge or boat across the sky.  These myths developed in time to become the Egyptian Sun gods Ra and Horus.  As time and technology developed, the transportation method shifted to a chariot and the legends were told of Helios and Apollo. 

The oldest Maya myth from the Popol Vuh tells of the birth of the Sun as one of the Maya Hero Twins, Hunahpu.

For the Navajo Indians, Tsohanoai is the Sun god. Everyday, he crosses the sky, carrying the Sun on his back. At night, the Sun rests by hanging on a peg in his house.

The modern name for the Sun evolved from the Germanic Sunna, the Norse Sol and then influenced by the growing Roman Empire to Sol Invictus. Just like all the bright suns in the nighttime sky, the modern world has a name for the star at the center of our planetary system, Sol. Which means more when you realize, we are residents of the Sol-ar System.

If you’d like to take a closer look at the Sol, or any of the other wonderful and amazing things in the sky, please visit csastro.org for a link to information on our monthly meetings and our free public star parties.