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Poor Will's Almanack: July 24 - July 30, 2018

Jupiter and Venus against the summer sky.
Steve Elliot
Flickr Creative Commons

Last week, walking west down my street late in the evening, I could see Venus straight ahead of me, a deep red-orange marker in the sky in the very last of sundown.

I looked up and around, trying to find the Big Dipper and the Summer Triangle, prominent stars of a July night. I could see Jupiter in the south to my left, but haze or high clouds kept the constellations hidden. The moon, new and dark, had set an hour or so earlier, and I was alone with the planets.

Not that I was really alone, surrounded by houses, cars going by a few blocks over, but I felt comforted by the presence of Venus and Jupiter, and I wondered why that was.

Had I needed to find my way in a wilderness night, they might have been of some help, but I knew where I was and where I was going, Maybe they were something like lighthouse beacons, I thought, marking safety and home. I was not at sea, or so I believed, but it seemed they offered a kind of comfort of context, as though they were guides or companions in a trackless space or time, as though they promised that the end of some journey or other was at an end.

I really couldn’t understand the source my feelings. They must have come out of my mood on that particular evening, but I can’t remember what the mood was. I only remember that Venus and Jupiter were beside me and in front of me, and that they gave me a meaning and direction that I needed.

This is Bill Felker with Poor Will’s Almanack. I’ll be back again next week with notes for the sixth week of Deep Summer. In the meantime, walk in the night. Look for Venus and Jupiter…they will still be there after sunset.

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Bill Felker has been writing nature columns and almanacs for regional and national publications since 1984. His Poor Will’s Almanack has appeared as an annual publication since 2003. His organization of weather patterns and phenology (what happens when in nature) offers a unique structure for understanding the repeating rhythms of the year.