Archive for April 18, 2014

04/18/2014 – Ephemeris – The constellation Coma Berenices

April 18, 2014 Comments off

Ephemeris for Good Friday, Friday, April 18th.  The sun rises at 6:53.  It’ll be up for 13 hours and 37 minutes, setting at 8:31.   The moon, 3 days past full, will rise at 12:21 tomorrow morning.

High in the southeast at 10 p.m. is a tiny and faint constellation of Coma Berenices, or Berenice’s hair.  In it are lots of faint stars arrayed to look like several strands of hair.  The whole group will fit in the field of a pair of binoculars, which will also show many more stars.  The hank of hair was supposed to belong to Berenice, Queen of Egypt, of the 3rd century BCE.  Coma Berenices is the second closest star cluster to us at only 250 light years away, after the Hyades, the face of Taurus the bull now setting in the west.  It’s in an odd spot for a galactic star cluster, that’s supposed to lie in the plane of the Milky Way.  It actually lies at the galactic pole.  That’s an illusion because it’s so close to us.  It’s still really in the plane of the Milky Way.

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


Coma Berenices finder chart

Coma Berenices finder chart for 10 p.m. April 18, 2014. Created using Stellarium.

Coma Berenices and the galactic pole

Coma Berenices and galactic coordinates showing how close to the galactic pole it is. Created using Cartes du Ciel

Milky Way and open clusters

Mercator projection of the Milky Way and some bright open or galactic clusters (brown disks). See how the distribution hugs the milky band. Clusters farther away are either close to us or very old for open clusters. Created using Cartes du Ciel.