The first Thanksgiving night sky: What did the Pilgrims see when they looked up?
What did the starry sky look like on the occasion of the very first Thanksgiving?
Science & Tech
What did the starry sky look like on the occasion of the very first Thanksgiving? And what was the state of astronomy back then? It may come as a surprise to many of you that almost everything we know about the first Thanksgiving comes from a single eyewitness report.
In September 1620, when the Mayflower finally set sail after three abortive attempts from England, there were 102 passengers and a crew of about 30 on board. When they made landfall on Cape Cod in early November, these pilgrims continued their journey to what ultimately would become Plymouth by late December, eventually forming the first permanent settlement of Europeans in New England. Sadly, about half of those passengers who made that perilous trip on the Mayflower died during the harsh winter of 1621. But those that survived were able to secure peace treaties with neighboring Native American tribes and built a largely self-sufficient economy within five years.