Halfway to Autumn

Listen 05:59

Upcoming cross-quarter day on August 1 is known as LoafMass: A celebration of the first loaves of bread from the first harvests of wheat in Northern Europe. The Celts called the day Lughnasadh, recognizing the fruits of the marriage of the Sun god Lugh and the Earth goddess. Other, better-known cross-quarter days are Beltane/May Day on May 1, Samhain/Halloween on October 31, and Candlemas/Groundhog Day on February 2.
All cross quarter designations were useful divisions of the calendar, making it easier to keep track of planting and harvest cycles.

We’re gathering new evidence about galactic sized mergers, including one in our Milky Way. Stars in our galaxy have been calculated to be 10 to 13 billion years old – as old as the oldest stars in the universe! They also indicate that the infant Milky Way was once impacted by a smaller galaxy that today is revealed by a distinct population of blue star scattered throughout the Milky Way.
These are older, redder stars formed during the universe’s first billion years. Scattered throughout the Milky Way, the smaller galaxy’s stars have a distinctive signature that shows it formed in a different part of space where the supply materials are different. This work has to be coordinated with other studies that show the Milky Way currently merging with other galaxies.

Jupiter and Saturn dominate the cross-quarter evening sky now, straddling the Milky Way.

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