Home > Constellations, Ephemeris Program, Mythology > 03/15/2016 – Ephemeris – Spotting the celestial Horse and Rider

03/15/2016 – Ephemeris – Spotting the celestial Horse and Rider

March 15, 2016

Ephemeris for, the Ides of March, Tuesday, March 15th.  The Sun will rise at 7:54.  It’ll be up for 11 hours and 55 minutes, setting at 7:49.   The Moon, at first quarter today, will set at 3:36 tomorrow morning.

In the handle of te Big Dipper rising high in the east northeast is an easily seen double star.  It’s the star second from the end of the handle where it makes a bend.  The bright star is Mizar.  It has a dim companion star that folks with good eyesight can easily spot, named Alcor.  The Arabs of old, before optometrists used the pair as an eye test.  I would have failed.  Even with my glasses on I can’t spot Alcor.  I must resort to binoculars.  The pair is known as the Horse and Rider, while the indigenous peoples of North America, see the stars of the handle of the Big Dipper not as the great Bear’s tail, but hunters following the bear.  In this case Alcor is either a hunting dog, or a cooking pot to cook the bear in.

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



Big Dipper

The Big Dipper, part of Ursa Major the Great Bear, is poised on its handle in the northeast. Can you spot Alcor? Created using Stellarium.

Mizar and Alcor

A closeup view of Mizar and Alcor and a dimmer star that lies in the background. Created using Stellarium.

A telescope with low power will also split Mizar intro a bright and dim companion named Mizar A and Mizar B.  By observing Mizar A, B and Alcor have determined that all three are binary.  There’s six stars there.

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