Beautiful Fairy Tale on Mid-summer Starry Sky

Romantic fairy tale in Chinese mythology was the least I thought of when we drove back to the Sunrise Point from the Sunrise Visitor Center at about 2 am, 26th August, 2012. Shivering in the sub-alpine cold air, what we were thinking was to get some heat from a running engine. That night, we left Paradise about 10pm and got to the Sunrise parking lot after mid-night. The plan was to photograph the sunrise. Photographing the Galaxy was not a main objective, since the parking lot was not a good place to do so anyway.

At Sunrise Point, I found the Galaxy was right above Mt. Rainier and the peak could be seen almost in whole between trees. The sparkling stars above were inviting. So, despite the cold, we set up gears to photograph the sky.

The most prominent feature in the sky of a mid-summer night on the northern hemisphere is the Milky Way flanked by the constellations of Lyra and Aquila. It came to my mind only a few days later that each of them contains a star that is known to all Chinese. They are the Cowherd Star, known as Altair in the west, and the Weaving Girl Star, or called Vega in the west.

The tale is a Chinese version of the Cinderella story and the folklore of Valentine’s Day combined. The Cowherd, a human being, and the Weaving Girl, a fairy, fell in love with each other, got married without endorsement of the high authority, and then forced to separate and blocked by the Milky Way. Out of compassion for them, on the seventh day of the seventh lunar month each year (which fell on the 23rd August this year, just three days earlier), flocks of magpies fly to form a bridge with their bodies over the Milky Way, allowing the Cowherd and the Weaving Girl to meet each other.

Fairy tale or not, it always conjures up romantic stories to stare at such beautiful starry night. And I forgot how cold it was when I took the picture.

Dear readers, let me show you the positions of the Cowherd Star and the Weaving Girl Star on the sky in the picture, and please give them your best wishes when you see them again!

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