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12/07/2017 – Ephemeris – The constellation of Auriga the Charioteer

December 7, 2017 Comments off

Ephemeris for Thursday, December 7th. The Sun will rise at 8:05. It’ll be up for 8 hours and 56 minutes, setting at 5:02. The Moon, 3 days before last quarter, will rise at 9:54 this evening.

The constellation Auriga the charioteer is about two-thirds the way up the sky in the east at 9 p.m. It is a pentagon of stars, with the brilliant star Capella at the top corner. Capella represents a she goat he’s carrying. A narrow triangle of stars nearby Capella is her kids. The Kids is an informal constellation or asterism. Within and near that pentagon, binoculars and telescopes will find several star clusters, groups of hundreds of stars born in the clump we still see them in. These star clusters will appear as fuzzy spots in binoculars. One called M 38 is near the center of the pentagon, M 36 is to the east of it and M 37, is farther east yet. The M designations come from Charles Messier who two centuries ago ran into them while looking for comets.

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

Addendum

Auriga Finder Chart

Auriga finder chart for 9 p.m. December 7th. any year. Created using Stellarium and GIMP.

Treasures in Auriga

Auriga, showing, among other things the Messier star clusters M 36, M 37, and M 38. Created using Cartes du Ciel (Sky Charts).

Cr 62 is Collander 62, a real or accidental star cluster of 4 stars called Auriga’s Diamond.  There’s an arc of stars just right of M 38 called the Cheshire Cat.   You can find these on Phil Harringtons’s Binocular Universe on the Cloudy Night’s website:  https://www.cloudynights.com/articles/cat/articles/new-articles-in-monthname/binocular-universe-aurigan-treasures-r2646