Creation of the Earth-Sky is the central motif of Maya myth and religion. Raising the sky is the Maya creation myth about the Milky Way." How should it be sown, how should it dawn?" . . . And then the Earth arose because of them, it was simply their word that brought it forth. For the forming of the Earth they said "Earth." It arose suddenly, just like a cloud, like a mist, now forming, unfolding. . . . Such was the formation of the Earth when it was brought forth by the Heart of Sky, Heart of Earth, as they are called. . . The Sky was set apart, and the Earth was set apart in the midst of the waters. (Popol Vuh)
It is mind boggling that the Maya appear to be the only pre-telescopic civilization to demonstrate knowledge of the solar system with the accuracy that they did. The Dresden Codex contains the highest concentration of astronomical phenomena observations and calculations of any of the surviving texts (it appears that the data in this codex is primarily or exclusively of an astronomical nature). Examination and analysis of this codex reveals that Venus was the most important astronomical object to the Maya, even more important to them than the sun.
The Maya based their calendrics in the carefully calculated cycles of the Pleiades, the Sun, the Moon, Venus, Jupiter, Saturn, Mars, and also they had a precise description of the eclipses as depicted in the Dresden Codex, as well as the ecliptic or zodiac, and the Milky Way was crucial in their Cosmology.
Here is an opportunity to create a night light with a representation of the solar system to shine on your walls and ceiling at night. Click on the image below, then right click and "Save image" to a location like where you can print it out.
Once you have this image printed, gather the rest of the materials on the list below and follow the directions to create a lamp that will project the stars for you to study and enjoy at night.
What you’ll need:
- a wide mouth jar – The jar needs to be wide enough to fit the small click light inside. A pickle jar works great.
- a disposable cake pan
- small click light, like theseIF you can find one, if not a very small votif candle can be used but be careful lighting it!
-an awl or something you can punch small holes with.
Cut a strip of the cake pan long enough to fit around inside the jar and tall enough to reach to the very top of the jar. Use a spoon to brandish out any writing or crinkled parts.
Use the awl to poke holes for the constellations. Mine are not accurately placed, it is only a small strip of aluminum after all. I included Hercules, the Big Dipper, the Little Dipper, Draco, Cassiopeia, Cepheus, Orion, Cancer and Gemini.
Connect the constellation dots with a silver Sharpie to make them easier to spot and remember to look for the real ones at night.
Fill in the other space with more holes. Make the holes smaller than the ones used to make the constellations because it will set the constellations apart.
Roll the aluminum sheet until it fits snug inside the jar. Hold the circle in place by cutting two tabs and folding them in opposite directions.
Put the encircled aluminum sheet inside the jar. Turn the click light on and place the it inside. Top with the lid. I spray painted my jar lid. It’s looks nicer and smells less like pickles.
Take into a dark room and enjoy.
The night sky in a holdable form. I connected the dots below so you can see them too. The Little Dipper, the Big Dipper, Draco and part of Orion.