Ethiopian Astronomical Society

LAST EVENING:Taken from a note book of a sidewalk astronomer

I consider last evening the most peaceful and productive evening of the entire semester. It was a chilly evening. 15 students from my astronomy class and myself headed to one of the largest optical telescopes in south eastern united states located in Burlington North Carolina. We arrived around 8:30 pm, and a little later we were joined by a group students from Wake Forest and UNCG. Dr. S. Danford of UNCG called for silence and started describing the objects we see that evening, in his schedule were Mars, the moon, the Orion nebula, a binary star system in Orion, the three hot new stars at the hear of Orion, the blue-ish sirus, and later he said it may not be possible to see M51, there was a lot of no, no and sneezes and coughs from the students. The most common student protest. It would have been the treat of the night, travelling 40 Million years. Steve continued his introduction of the evening and promised to take us outside and show us the various constellations, those racing towards the horizon not to be seen for the next few months, those which are rising gloriously to dominate the spring and summer skies. My favorite Cassiopeia and her daughter Andromada are starting their beauty sleep early. Her glorious husband is long gone to tax his subjects beyond the sea. CASSIOPEIA was over my house for a few months and she kept me company when I was coming late from work. ORION, the most dominant winter constellation, he is tired now. He must migrate westward to hibernate for a few months before it migrates back in the winter. The BIG DIPPER is racing for dominance, spring and summer are his. Sirius, the bright eye of CANIS MAJOR, the big dog and PROCYON, the bright eye of CANIS MINOR, the Small dog, are wide open, they seem to be angry at the aggression of the BIG DIPPER. BETELGEUSE from Orion and the two eyes of the dogs form a triangular fence, possibly to defend their territory from occupation by the bear. While the night dominates the city lights, Steve and his student started to stir the telescope to travel to the moon, we traveled about 400,000 miles and saw the craters of the moon and it was fantastic. The poor moon was bombarded several times by an army of terrorist meteorites. We saw the detailed image of the scars of our moon. Then we strolled on the surface of a few thousand miles and arrived at the site of the lunar lander where the flags of many nations are flowing by the magical winds of the moon. I looked for our flag !. Now it is time to leave the moon and travel to the brightest planet this spring, our good neighbor, Ato Mars. Mars is about 180 million miles from the sun, and about 90 million miles from earth at conjunction (nearest) and about 270 million miles at opposition (furthest). Mars carried a mystery in its rotation about the sun for a long time until the advent of Copernican heliocentric cosmology. One would expect a forward progressing motion for all planets, but that is not true. Mars's orbital motion is retrograde which means it moves forward for some time and back ward for some other time. Please refer to your astronomy book to understand retrograde motion. The wonders of Mars is not its motion, Mars has "nech timtim" like a priest. It has ice on its poles, exactly the same way as the earth has ice polar caps. The view was fantastic. It looked yellow in most of its surface and snow white in its southern pole. We could see most of the southern hemisphere. Where do we go next ? We aimed the telescope to the heart of Orion. The most interesting features: Orion Nebula, the four hot stars (the trapezium cluster), and witnessing the birth of stars. We are now several million light years from the solar system, we were never tired, we are in a time capsule capturing events that happened several millions years ago by looking at the flicker of light that was emitted then. Of course we didn't expect to see mother nature laboring to give birth to stars. The phenomena of star birth requires a different detection system, the temperature of a proto-star is very low and the radiation emitted from such objects in the infrared. The operation of infrared telescope is different from optical telescope. We left the observatory around 11:00 pm. As I was walking towards my apartment, I looked up to the heavens and I asked, How did my ancestors look at the heavens ? are there books, cave drawings and ancient relics of describing our knowledge of the heavens. I flashed with smile. That flash was brighter than the stars I am looking at, yes there are books and literary works about Ethiopian Astronomer. Before I started sighting the books, I start singing

Abeba ayeh woi
Lemlem
Abeba ayeh woi
Lemlem
Abeba sisha
Tisha le Tisha
Lemlem
Libelagni neber Ya tikur wusha
Lemelem
Abeba Ye-bir mudaye
Kolel beyi

Balinjeroche kumu betera
inchet sebre bet iskiser
inquan betina yelegim atir
edeje adralehu kokeb sikotir
kokeb kotire sigba bete
Tikotagnalech injera-inate

Well, this is girls' song, no problem, I am half a woman !! but the first evidence of looking at the stars is right infront of you here. How about this,

Ale hoi
Alale hoi
Gereden alayeh woi
Gerede mariam sima
Birkuma teshekima
Birkuma Yedagete
Chereka Diboul-loka
Ase bet gebachi awka
Ase bet Yalut lijoch
inkirdard fetagiwoch
fetigew fetatigew
bekulbit askemetu
kulbitua bitiseber
bewanchi gelebetu
aja kolo
sinde kolo
ichintitesh>br> ichin tolo

There we go!! another evidence of our connection to the heavens in these famous children songs. My people say
"Mengiste semaiat sebat ber alew" Which means the heavens have seven doors.

  1. Where are these seven doors ?
  2. what are they referring to ?
  3. Are they referring to Mistre Silassie ?
  4. Are there really seven doors to the heavens ?
  5. Could they be talking about the seven planets?
  6. Could the design of fidel be related to these seven doors ?
In my studies, I came to the conclusion that the seven doors to heaven are the seven planets. There we go !

Don't you wish that you took your parents seriously when they told you that the heavens have seven doors ?

Don't you wish you asked them why ?. No, no, this is backward for you. You are too busy reading Mark Twain, Das Kapital, Fredric Engles, or studying american revolution. For your information we have a well organized and advanced literature which will surprise every one , let's see

  1. The most ancient one is the Book of Henok
  2. Ye kam metasebia (Asres Yenewsew)
  3. Abushaker Yeken Mekuteria
  4. Tibe-Axum (Asres Yenew Sew)
  5. Awde negest
Plus all the books that our churches and mosques, and synagogue, and in particular the living dictionary, our own people. I think the Ethiopian astronomy literature must be revisited and studied by our own children. The next generation must study the science of Astronomy and rediscover Ethiopia. We have the culture and the knowledge of Astronomy, we must redefine the constellations write the stories of our own legends. How can that be done ?,

Abebe Kebede, THE SIDE WALK ASTRONOMER


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