The Sidney Sun-Telegraph - Serving proudly since 1873 as the beautiful Nebraska Panhandle's first newspaper

By Forrest Hershberger
Sidney Sun-Telegraph 

Summer Readers Hear About Solar System

 

Forrest Hershberger

Etta Sherman signs a story as Eileen Nightingale reads to children in the summer reading program.

On a clear night, a gaze into the sky can reveal more planets and stars than the mind can comprehend.

That same gaze can usually identify evidence of Greek mythology, wildlife and hunters, and the most consistent tool in navigational history.

Students in the Sidney Public Library summer reading program heard a lesson by Eileen Nightingale and Etta Sherman on astronomy, its uses and its history, at the library's Stargazer Park. She started the noon-hour event by asking children what they know about space. Answers included planets, new planets, aliens and stars. She then asked what is the closest star: the Sun. She went on to tell the children that clusters of stars are defined as constellations, and Ursa Major is a well-known and often-used constellation.

Ursa Major is known for navigation because it also has the Big Dipper and Little Dipper, and the North Star.

Ursa Major is part of Greek mythology. Ursa Major is translated as "the great bear." Nightingale explained that the myth started with Callisto, who was turned into a bear by Zeus' jealous wife Hera. Callisto, now a bear, was cast into the constellation by Zeus as a way of protecting her because she was chased by hunters. Her son Arcas, a hunter, was also placed in the sky. According to legend, Callisto met her son in the woods during the 15 years she roamed the countryside as a bear. As Arcas drew his spear on the bear, his mother, a whirlwind carried them both to the heavens.

After the short astronomy lesson, children were also treated to a book reading.

The book "The Drinking Gourd," is a children's story about how the Underground Railroad used the North Star, Big Dipper and Little Dipper to guide families escaping slavery. "Follow the drinking gourd" is a reference to the Big Dipper, encouraging night travelers to navigate by the North Star.

Children were treated to the story interpreted in sign language by Etta Sherman.

Tuesday evening, Sidney librarian Andrew "Sherm" Sherman told the city council there are about 150 children in the summer reading program.

The Summer Reading Kickoff party was June 1. Children are welcome to enter the Summer Reading Program through June.

 

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