Our great ancient ancestors termed constellations as critically important in their life. People who had knowledge on reading and interpreting constellation used it as the primary tool for telling time at night. The movement, and the position of stars at night in the sky, used to tell time.
This position of stars at night was important to travelers, in the sea and the desert to tell direction and find ways to lead where they want to go. This was when humanity began traveling long distances by ships. Stars were used for navigation during the nighttime.
It worked only if someone was able identify individual key stars. The dictionary definition of the word Constellations is a group of stars forming a recognizable pattern. The pattern is traditional named after its apparent form, or identified with a mythological figure.
These groups of stars were used as tools for the identification of stars that occurred regularly in a certain position, what regularly happen that time, for example when certain pattern of appears it may mean dawn is almost. It made it easy to remember stars. It played a particular role in a larger pattern than just to identify a star without the aid of named patterns.
Today people travel from cities to remote areas to enjoying sighting the glamour of African sky at night. The uses are turning to constellation tourism. I had never thought meeting someone just paying hard earn cash just come watching pattern of stars at night in African remote parts. The reason tourists give is that they have never had a chance in their life, to view exquisite nature of sky at night until they arrived in Africa.
It reminded me once I went under a tree during the day. The tree had good shadow. Below it a fine sand with a friendly feel to my skin. I laid down, my back touching the soft sand; I had gathered some of it to serve as a pillow to raise my head slightly high. I peeped through the bushy branches and thick leaves towards the blue clear sky. I had no intention at all to see anything; however, I accidentally saw a star at daytime.
I was delighted, and I ran home to tell my mother. I thought she would be interested. She said it was impossible. She did not ask me how I did see it. She was though busy with house chores. I decide to tell my father who encourage me it was possible especially if the sun was a quarter of the day to sunset.
Every night I enjoyed watching stars at night when sky is clear. It had never occurred to me that someone somewhere is not able to see beautifully glittering African skies at night.
The beauty of African continent lives not only culture diversity, flora and fauna, African skies glamour at night. The formation constellation is infinite and it communicates time of the day, it tells direction to places, informs farms to prepare for planting or time to celebrate harvest.
As a kid, the community mythology taught me that, stars are fires lite by people who died and ascended to heaven, and it signified spiritually life after death. According these mythologies, you can actually see heaven before you die!
As we begun to understand complexity of the language adult use, we begun to learn the truth about star sighting. I began to learn names of the patterns formed, and what they tell. My father, use the position of the stars, and the pattern they from to tell time of night, and what is likely to happen that month. I remember him saying it might rain in a month time, and inform the family to get ready.
Now as Africa, embrace modernity wholeheartedly, to see stars at night is becoming impossible, unless one uses modern technology or moves to remote area. Light pollution is growing as urbanization mushrooming everywhere, complete cities are set up in less 10 years, lighting and city glamour is spreading faster, it makes me wonder, maybe in the near future, I will travel somewhere far to enjoy stars seeing as a tourist.
Rome and London were not build in a day to attain today’s sophistication, but some cities in Africa seems to have been created in days, for example, Nigeria, Abuja and Kenya, technology city, Konza city.