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12/27/2013 – Ephemeris – The star Procyon: “Before the Dog”

December 27, 2013

Ephemeris for Friday, December 27th.  The sun will rise at 8:18.  It’ll be up for 8 hours and 50 minutes, setting at 5:08.   The moon, 2 days past last quarter, will rise at 3:48 tomorrow morning.

Yesterday I talked about the brilliant star Sirius, the dog star pointed to by the stars of the belt of Orion.  Today we’ll look at another dog star. Procyon, the bright star in Canis Minor, the lesser dog.  It is pointed to by the top two stars in the Orion rectangle Bellatrix and Betelgeuse.  One of the translations of Procyon means “Before the Dog”.  This seemingly odd title is explained that even though Procyon is east of Sirius and all things being equal, well at least latitude or declination the eastern star should rise after the western star.  However Procyon is north of Sirius and if one is sufficiently north of the equator, the eastern most star can rise first.  This is what happens.  Procyon is a bit farther away than Sirius and isn’t quite as bright either.

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

 Addendum

Procyon is already up as Sirius rises.  Procyon also sets after Sirius.  Created using Stellarium.

Procyon is already up as Sirius rises. Procyon also sets after Sirius. Created using Stellarium.

Note:  Stellarium approximates atmospheric extinction, that is dims objects when they are near the horizon an effect due to looking through more of the Earth’s atmosphere when looking close to the horizon.  That’s why Sirius looks rather fainter than in yesterday’s image.

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