... and the night, after the waxing Moon has set, the sable sky in a glitter of stars. Few places in the developed world are now far enough away from sodium lights for the stars to be seen at their breath-taking best. But I'm lucky enough to live at the edge of a village so if I go into my back garden and stand with the house between me and the nearest street lights, on clear nights such as we have lately had I can see the white mist of the Milky Way across the sky and stars by the thousand out of which the constellations form, if you know them: Cassiopeia's Chair above (though who now knows the story of her self-conscious beauty?). Orion's belt is lower down, a line of three bright stars with his sword hanging down from it tipped by the bright blue 'dog' star Sirius. This shape is the very harbinger of Winter in the sky, for it is below the horizon in the Summer months. But the Plough, or the Sickle is there for the whole year, turning around the Pole Star. Arcturus, too, stays in the northern sky in the constellation of the Great Bear (Arktos) and can be seen any night when it's clear and dark enough. Each shape has a story. Spilled treasure, jewels of great price that no-one, but everyone, can possess.

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