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12/17/2015 – Ephemeris – The bright star Aldebaran the “follower”

December 17, 2015

Ephemeris for Thursday, December 17th.  The Sun will rise at 8:14.  It’ll be up for 8 hours and 48 minutes, setting at 5:03.   The Moon, 1 day before first quarter, will set at 12:07 tomorrow morning.

The central constellation of winter Orion, will be rising the east-southeast at 9 p.m.  Above it is Taurus the bull.  The bright orange star in Taurus is Aldebaran.  Aldebaran appears at the lower left tip of a letter V group of stars that is the face of the bull.  Aldebaran isn’t actually part of the group, called the Hyades star cluster.  The cluster is about 151 light years away, while Aldebaran is 65.  The star has an orange hue because its surface is cooler than the sun’s.  However Aldebaran is 44 times larger in diameter, and shines 425 times brighter than the sun, if you include the infrared which our eyes can’t detect, or 150 times brighter in visible light.  The name Aldebaran means “Follower”  because it follows the Pleiades star cluster above through the night.

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

Addendum

Aldebaran, Hyades and Pleiades

Aldebaran, the Hyades and Pleiades star clusters. Created using Stellarium.

Taurus and Orion

Three views of Taurus the bull and Orion the hunter for 9 p.m. on December 8, 2015. Created using Stellarium and GIMP.

 

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