People have been people for a long time. There was a time
when people did not live in houses, there was a time when
people did not use fire. These people were real people,
much like us. Our human prehistoric ancestors lived
under the open sky for many thousands of years.
The stars were much more obvious to these people than to
those of us who live in cities with street lights. Street
lights minimize even the impressive variations of the moon's
Most of our ancestors, even very recent ones, saw the sky much
more regularly and much more clearly than most of us do. Gazing
into the bowl of heaven night after night, they couldn't help
noticing the patterns and rhythms in the movement of celestial
The twinkling stars sit in a fixed pattern.
They all move slowly together across the sky. They rise slightly
later each night, making a full cycle over the course of a year.
A few bright lights don't twinkle, and these cut across the star
pattern in their wandering, each with
their own rhythm and speed.
Our ancestors learned to use these patterns in several ways.
Long before television, before movies and libraries,
before almanacs and maps and historical records,
the night sky was all of these things.