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04/04/2019 – Ephemeris – A very hairy constellation

April 4, 2019 Comments off

Ephemeris for Thursday, April 4th. Today the Sun will be up for 12 hours and 55 minutes, setting at 8:13, and it will rise tomorrow at 7:16. The Moon, 1 day before new, will rise at 7:51 tomorrow morning.

Midway up the sky in the east-southeast at 10 p.m. is a tiny sprinkle of faint stars arrayed to look like several strands of hair. It’s the constellation of Coma Berenices, or Berenice’s hair. The whole group will fit in the field of a pair of binoculars, which is the best way to see it, and will also show more stars. The cluster contains about 50 stars and lies at a distance of 280 light years from us, which makes it the second closest star cluster. The closest being the Hyades, that is the face of Taurus the bull now about to set in the west. The star cluster appears to be about 480 million years old. It is an open or galactic star cluster, born along the plane of the Milky Way. It appears away from the milky band due to its closeness to us.

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

Addendum

Coma Berenices finder chart

Coma Berenices finder chart 10 p.m., April 4th. Created using Stellarium.

Coma Berenices

Approximate 7 power binocular field of view of the Coma Berenices Cluster. Created using Cartes du Ciel (Sky Charts).