Archive for January 19, 2015

Here’s your chance to find Neptune – tonight only

January 19, 2015 Comments off
Mars and Neptune

Mars and Neptune tonight only. Here is where Cartes du Ceil (Sky Charts) puts them at 7 p.m. January 19, 2015. They will be low in the southwest. Mars is second magnitude, Neptune is 8th.

The outer red circle matches that of the popular Telrad telescope finder and is a bit smaller (4º) than 7 or 10 power binoculars.  The smaller circle is a 2° circle.  It will take binoculars at least and a clear sky to spot this outermost planet.

Galileo actually recorded Neptune with his primitive telescope when Jupiter passed it.  But to Galileo it was simply a background star.

Note:  The 7 p.m. time in the caption is local to western lower Michigan.  My location is 43 minutes behind Eastern Standard Time.  If you are near your time meridian the time is more likely 6:15 p.m.  This normally isn’t a big deal, but These planets are close to setting.

01/19/2015 – Ephemeris – Sirius, the brightest star in the night

January 19, 2015 Comments off

Ephemeris for Martin Luther King Day, Monday, January 19th.  The sun will rise at 8:14.  It’ll be up for 9 hours and 19 minutes, setting at 5:33.   The moon, 1 day before new, will rise at 7:53 tomorrow morning.  |  The star Sirius is the brightest night-time star in the heavens. It’s up on frosty winter evenings, and currently low in the southeastern sky in the early evening.  It can be found in line and left of the three stars of Orion’s belt.  It’s known as the Dog Star because it’s in the heart of the constellation Canis Major the greater dog.  Sirius, however means dazzling one or sparkling one due to its brightness and the long time it spends low to the horizon where our turbulent atmosphere breaks up its light as a sparkler of color in telescopes and binoculars.  Sirius owes its brightness mostly to its close proximity of 8.6 light years.  It is 25 times brighter than the sun.  It also has a white dwarf companion star nicknamed the Pup.

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


Sirius A and B

Sirius A and B (near the diffraction spike to the lower left), A Hubble Space Telescope photograph. Credit NASA, ESA.

01/16/2015 – Ephemeris – Orion’s greater hunting dog: Canis Major

January 19, 2015 Comments off

Ephemeris for Friday, January 16th.  The sun will rise at 8:16.  It’ll be up for 9 hours and 13 minutes, setting at 5:29.   The moon, 3 days past last quarter, will rise at 5:09 tomorrow morning.

The great winter constellation or star group Orion the Hunter, is located in the south-southeastern sky at 9 p.m.  His elongated rectangle of a torso is almost vertical.  In the center of the rectangle are three stars in a line that make his belt.  As a hunter, especially one of old, he has two hunting dogs.  The larger, Canis Major can be found by following the three belt stars of Orion down and to the left.  There lies the  brilliant star called Sirius, also known as the Dog Star.  It’s in the heart of a stick figure dog low in the southeast facing Orion that appears to be begging.  I’ll have more to say about Sirius on Monday, but there’s a fine star cluster, caller M41, at the 5 o’clock position from Sirius easily visible in binoculars or a small telescope.

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


Orion and hunting dogs

Orion and his hunting dogs with pointers as seen at 9 p.m. in the second half of January. Created using Stellarium.