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02/07/2017 – Ephemeris – Sirius: an important star in history

February 7, 2017

Ephemeris for Tuesday, February 7th.  The Sun will rise at 7:53.  It’ll be up for 10 hours and 6 minutes, setting at 6:00.  The Moon, 3 days before full, will set at 5:53 tomorrow morning.

The brightest star-like object in the evening sky is Sirius, also known as the Dog Star.  It also is the brightest night-time star in our skies period.  Tonight at 9 p.m. it’s located in the southeastern sky.  The Dog Star name comes from its position at the heart of the constellation Canis Major, the great dog of Orion the hunter.  The three stars of Orion’s belt tilt to the southeast and point to Sirius.  The name Sirius means ‘Dazzling One’, a reference to its great brilliance and twinkling.  Its Egyptian name was Sothis, and its appearance in the dawn skies in late June signaled the flooding of the Nile, and the beginning of the Egyptian agricultural year.  Sirius owes much of its brightness to the fact that it lies quite close to us, only about 8 light years away.

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


Heliacal rising of Sirius

A simulation of the heliacal rising of Sothis (Sirius) with the Egyptian Pyramids circa 2000 BC.  Note that Sirius is just visible to the right of the nearest Pyramid. Created using Stellarium and GIMP.

A heliacal rising is the first appearance of a star or planet in the morning after disappearing weeks or months before in the evening twilight.

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