05/24/2017 – Ephemeris – Let’s take our weekly look at the bright naked eye planets

May 24, 2017 1 comment

Ephemeris for Wednesday, May 24th.  Today the Sun will be up for 15 hours and 7 minutes, setting at 9:13, and it will rise tomorrow at 6:04.  The Moon, 1 day before new, will rise at 6:20 tomorrow morning.

Let’s take our weekly look at the bright planets.  Mars is still in the west-northwest after sunset and fading.  It appears near the left edge of the constellation Auriga.  It will set at 10:49 p.m.  Dominating the evening sky now is Jupiter in the south.  The bright blue-white star Spica is seen below and left of it.   In even the smallest telescopes Jupiter’s four largest moons can be seen.  They shift positions night from to night and sometimes even as you watch.  Jupiter will set at 4:09 a.m.  At 5 a.m. both Saturn and Venus will be in the morning twilight.  Saturn will be low in the south-southwest.  It will rise in the east-southeast at 10:45 p.m.  Brilliant Venus will be low in the east tomorrow morning after rising at 4:16 a.m.

The times given are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan. They may be different for your location.

Addendum

Evening Planets

Mars and Jupiter with the spring constellations in the fading twilight at 10 p.m., May 24, 2017. Created using Stellarium.

Jupiter and moons

Jupiter and its four Galilean moons as they might be seen in a telescope at 10 p.m,. May 24, 2017. Created using Cartes du Ciel (Sky Charts).

Morning Planets

Venus and Saturn at 5 a.m. May 25, 2017. Created using Stellarium. Click on the image to expand.

Saturn and moons

Saturn and its brightest moons at 5 a.m. May 25, 2017. Created using Cartes du Ciel (Sky Charts).

Telescopic Venus

Venus as seen through a telescope at 5 a.m. May 25, 2017. This is displayed at a larger scale/magnification than the Jupiter or Saturn images above. Created using Stellarium.

Planets on a single night

Planets at sunset and sunrise of a single night starting with sunset on the right on May 24, 2017. The night ends on the left with sunrise on May 25. Click on the image to enlarge. Created using my LookingUp program.

05/23/2017 – Ephemeris – The Big Dipper as seen in many lands

May 23, 2017 Leave a comment

Ephemeris for Tuesday, May 23rd.  Today the Sun will be up for 15 hours and 6 minutes, setting at 9:12, and it will rise tomorrow at 6:05.  The Moon, 2 days before new, will rise at 5:38 tomorrow morning.

The Big Dipper is overhead at 10 in the evening, it’s seven stars shining brightly. The Big Dipper is not an actual constellation, recognized internationally. It’s part, the hind part, of Ursa Major, the great bear. The Big Dipper is an asterism or informal constellation. It is a distinctly North American constellation. For fugitive slaves, fleeing the southern states in the days before the Civil War, the Drinking Gourd, as they called it, showed the direction north to freedom. In England the dipper stars become the Plough, or Charles’ Wain (Charlemagne’s Wagon), In France, known for culinary delights it was the saucepan, or the cleaver. So many cultures saw what was familiar to them in these seven bright stars.

The times given are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan. They may be different for your location.

Addendum

The many faces of the Big Dipper

The Big Dipper as I imagine it from some lands facing southwest and looking straight up. The X in the picture is the zenith point. We cycle through the stars only, the Big Dipper or the Saucepan, The Plough (plow in the U.S.), Charles Wain, and finally the Cleaver. Created using my LookingUp program.

Do you know any other asterisms or informal constellations assigned to these stars, add a comment.

 

05/22/2017 – Ephemeris – Why does the Great Bear have a long tail?

May 22, 2017 Leave a comment

Ephemeris for Monday, May 22nd.  Today the Sun will be up for 15 hours and 4 minutes, setting at 9:11, and it will rise tomorrow at 6:06.  The Moon, 3 days before new, will rise at 5:01 tomorrow morning.

The Great Bear, or Ursa Major as the Greeks, Romans and others saw it, has been handed down to us to this day.  We see the Great Bear as the Big Dipper overhead in the evening now, which is just his hind end, with a long very unbearlike tail.  The ancient Greek story goes that a god, not wishing to grab the end with the teeth, grabbed instead her stubby tail and in hurling her into the sky, and stretched the tail.  Native Americans who also saw a bear here, saw the three stars of the dipper handle as three hunters following the bear.  The local Anishinaabek people saw here instead the Fisher, a magical weasel-like animal who had a long tail naturally.  He brought summer to the Earth, and was killed for his efforts, but was placed in the sky to show us the seasons.

The times given are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan. They may be different for your location.

Addendum

The Great Bear and the Fisher

The Big Dipper/Great Bear/Fisher as seen by western and Anishinaabek people. Created using Stellarium and GIMP.

Western art is by Johan Meuris.

The source for the Ojibwe constellation art in Stellarium is from Ojibwe Sky Star Map Constellation Guide (An introduction to Ojibwe Star Knowledge) by Annette S. Lee, William Wilson, Jeffrey Tibbetts, and Carl Gawboy, ISBN 978-0-615-98678-4.  The illustrations are by Annette S. Lee and William Wilson.  There is also a poster sized star map available.  It should be available in book stores locally, or on Amazon.  I found my copy at Enerdyne in Suttons Bay.

My retelling of the Fisher or Fisher Star is here:  https://bobmoler.wordpress.com/2012/10/11/the-story-of-the-fisher-star/

05/19/2017 – Ephemeris – Two events this weekend featuring astronomy

May 19, 2017 Comments off

Ephemeris for Friday, May 19th.  Today the Sun will be up for 14 hours and 58 minutes, setting at 9:08, and it will rise tomorrow at 6:09.  The Moon, 1 day past last quarter, will rise at 3:26 tomorrow morning.

The Grand Traverse Astronomical Society will be part of two events this weekend.  Saturday evening society members will be at Northwestern Michigan College’s Rogers Observatory, south of Traverse City, on Birmley Road, for a star party starting at 9 p.m. viewing the planet Jupiter and its four largest moons.  There will be some actual star observing too as the sky gets darker.  On Sunday the society will be part of the Northwestern Michigan College’s Barbecue, with telescopes to observe the Sun safely, and with tips on how to view August 21st solar eclipse safely.  There will be exhibits of photographs and actual meteorites, and videos in the Health and Science Building.

The times given are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan. They may be different for your location.

05/18/2017 – Ephemeris – Finding Corona Borealis, the Northern Crown

May 18, 2017 Comments off

Ephemeris for Thursday, May 18th.  Today the Sun will be up for 14 hours and 56 minutes, setting at 9:07, and it will rise tomorrow at 6:10.  The Moon, at last quarter today, will rise at 2:54 tomorrow morning.

In the east at 11 this evening can be seen a small nearly circular constellation of Corona Borealis, the Northern Crown.  It is just below Boötes, the kite shaped constellation off the handle of the Big Dipper.  According to Greek myth the crown was given by the gods to the princess Ariadne, daughter of King Minos of Crete.  The crown is more like a tiara with the bright star Alphecca at the front.  To the Anishinaabek people, who are natives of our region it is the Sweat Lodge.  Part of what we call Hercules next to it is the Exhausted Bather, who is lying on the ground after the ceremony.  The seven stones that are heated for the Sweat Lodge are the Pleiades, now too close to the Sun to be seen.

The times given are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan. They may be different for your location.

Addendum

Corona Borealis, the Sweat Lodge

Animation for finding and showing Corona Borealis, the Sweat Lodge and nearby constellations. Created using Stellarium and GIMP.  Click on the image to enlarge.

The source for the Ojibwe constellation art in Stellarium is from Ojibwe Sky Star Map Constellation Guide (An introduction to Ojibwe Star Knowledge) by Annette S. Lee, William Wilson, Jeffrey Tibbetts, and Carl Gawboy, ISBN 978-0-615-98678-4.  The illustrations are by Annette S. Lee and William Wilson.  There is also a poster sized star map available.  It should be available in book stores locally, or at Amazon.  I found my copy at Enerdyne in Suttons Bay.

 

05/17/2017 – Ephemeris – Let’s look at the bright planets for this week

May 17, 2017 Comments off

Ephemeris for Wednesday, May 17th.  Today the Sun will be up for 14 hours and 54 minutes, setting at 9:06, and it will rise tomorrow at 6:11.  The Moon, 1 day before last quarter, will rise at 2:20 tomorrow morning.

Let’s take our weekly look at the bright planets.  Mars is still in the west-northwest after sunset and fading.  It appears under the left edge of the constellation Auriga.  It will set at 10:54 p.m.  Dominating the evening sky now is Jupiter in the south-southeast.  The bright blue-white star Spica is seen below and left of it.   In even the smallest telescopes Jupiter’s four largest moons can be seen.  They shift positions night from to night and sometimes even as you watch.  Jupiter will set at 4:42 a.m.  At 5:30 a.m. both Saturn and Venus will be in the morning twilight.  Saturn will be low in the south-southwest.  It will rise in the east-southeast at 11:14 p.m.  Brilliant Venus will be low in the east tomorrow morning after rising at 4:27 a.m.

For us Mercury, at greatest western elongation of 25.8°will be on the horizon at 5:30, but those south of the equator it will be well placed for viewing in the morning.

The times given are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan. They may be different for your location.

Addendum

Evening planets

Mars and Jupiter with the spring constellations in the fading twilight at 10 p.m., May 17, 2017. Created using Stellarium.

Jupiter nd moons

Jupiter and its four Galilean moons as they might be seen in a telescope at 10 p.,. May 17, 2017. Created using Cartes du Ciel (Sky Charts).

Morning planets

Venus, Saturn and the Moon at 5:30 a.m. May 18, 2017. Created using Stellarium. Click on the image to expand.

Saturn and moons

Saturn and its brightest moons at 5:30 a.m. May 18, 2017. This is displayed at the same scale/magnification as the Jupiter image above. Created using Cartes du Ciel (Sky Charts).

Binocular moon

The Moon as it might be seen in binoculars at 5:30 a.m., May 18, 2017. Created using Stellarium.

Telesvopic Venus

Venus as seen through a telescope at 5:30 a.m. May 18, 2017. This is displayed at a larger scale/magnification than the Jupiter and Saturn images above. Created using Stellarium.

Planets and the Moon on a single night

Planets and the Moon at sunset and sunrise of a single night starting with sunset on the right on May 17, 2017. The night ends on the left with sunrise on May 18. Click on the image to enlarge. Created using my LookingUp program.

05/16/2017 – Ephemeris – The Virgo Cluster of Galaxies

May 16, 2017 Comments off

Ephemeris for Tuesday, May 16th.  Today the Sun will be up for 14 hours and 51 minutes, setting at 9:05, and it will rise tomorrow at 6:12.  The Moon, 2 days before last quarter, will rise at 1:43 tomorrow morning.

Yesterday I talked about the constellation of Virgo the virgin.  When we are looking at the constellation of Virgo, we are looking out the thin side of our galaxy, the Milky Way.  The Milky Way galaxy is a flat disk.  When we look into the disk we see the milky band we call the Milky Way. That band, what we can see of if is now low in the north, So the stars are much more sparse with the exception of those relatively close to us, like those of the big Dipper.  Beyond the stars of Virgo is a huge cluster of over a thousand galaxies.   Charles Messier, a comet hunter of the late 18th century, ran into quite a few fuzzy spots between Virgo and Leo to the upper right.  Because they didn’t move in relation to the stars, they couldn’t be comets, so he added them to his list of nuisance objects, which we now enjoy looking at.

The times given are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan. They may be different for your location.

Addendum

Virgo cluster

Some of the brighter members of the Virgo Cluster (of galaxies) as tiny red ovals. The galaxies marked with an ‘M’ number are part of Charles Messier’s catalog. It took a telescope of 8 inch diameter for me to spot them. Someone with better vision, like Messier himself can spot them with a smaller telescope. Created using Cartes du Ciel (Sky Charts).  Click on image to enlarge.