Home > Calendar, Ephemeris Program, Inside Ephemeris > 01/07/2020 – Ephemeris – What the heck is an ephemeris? Plus my Betelgeuse update

01/07/2020 – Ephemeris – What the heck is an ephemeris? Plus my Betelgeuse update

January 7, 2020

Ephemeris for Tuesday, January 7th. Today the Sun will be up for 8 hours and 58 minutes, setting at 5:18, and it will rise tomorrow at 8:19. The Moon, 3 days before full, will set at 6:09 tomorrow morning.

What the heck is an ephemeris? According to Wikipedia: “In astronomy and celestial navigation, an ephemeris (plural: ephemerides; from Latin ephemeris, meaning ‘diary’, from the Greek,… meaning ‘diary, <or> journal’) gives the positions of… astronomical objects… at a given time or times. Historically, positions were given as printed tables of values, given at regular intervals of date and time.” My tables are now databases which I generate for the year during the prior December from published algorithms. I will show all on my blog today: It’s at bobmoler<dot>wordpress<dot>com. (You are already here) I used to have to interpolate values from printed ephemerides for the first 5 or so years.

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


An Ephemeris Example

Ephemeris for 2I/Borisov

Here’s an ephemeris for the Interstellar comet for 2I/Borisov AKA C/2019 Q4 (Borisov) from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory’s (JPL) Horizons system.

R.A. is right ascension – East-west position in the sky, like longitude on the Earth, only it’s in hours, minutes and seconds.  One hour = 15 degrees.

DEC is declination – North-south position, in the sky, exactly like latitude on the Earth in degrees, minutes and seconds.

J2000.0 means that the above coordinates are based on where the vernal equinox point in the sky was on January 1, 12:00 Terrestrial Time, 2000.  Or January 1, 2000, 11:58:55.816 UTC as reported in Wikipedia.

APmag – Apparent visual magnitude.  Magnitudes are like golf scores.  The higher magnitude the dimmer the object.  It’s really, really dim.

delta – Distance from the Earth in terms of Astronomical Units (AU).  1 AU is Earth’s mean distance from the Sun.

deldot – The change in delta.  It’s in kilometers per second.  If positive, it’s going away.

For more information on how I produce ephemerides for this program go here: https://bobmoler.wordpress.com/2019/01/22/

The dimming of Betelgeuse

I finally got a clear evening.  However snow and freezing rain the rest of the week.

Orion at 7:07 p.m. January 6, 2020

Betelgeuse in Orion at 7:07 p.m. January 6, 2020. Taken with my Samsung Galaxy S10+ in the moonlight. Compare the brightness of Betelgeuse with Rigel, Bellatrix and the belt stars.

Orion's brightest stars

Orion’s brightest stars with their names for 9 p.m. January 7, 2019. Click on the image to make Orion a giant hunter. Created using Stellarium.

See last Thursday’s post on the dimming of Betelgeuse: https://bobmoler.wordpress.com/2020/01/02/

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