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06/28/2022 – Ephemeris – Finding the celestial harp

June 28, 2022 Comments off

This is Ephemeris for Tuesday, June 28th. Today the Sun will be up for 15 hours and 32 minutes, setting at 9:32, and it will rise tomorrow at 6:00. The Moon is new today, and won’t be visible.

High in the east at 11 p.m. can be found a bright star just above a small, narrow, but very distinctive parallelogram of stars. They are the stars of the constellation Lyra the harp. The bright star is Vega, the 4th or 5th brightest nighttime star*, and currently the topmost star of the Summer Triangle. To the Romans, the star Vega represented a falling eagle or vulture. Apparently they never made the distinction between the two species. It is a pure white star and serves as a calibration star for color and brightness. In the evening, it is the top-most star of the Summer Triangle. The harp, according to Greek mythology, was invented by the god Hermes. The form of the harp, in the sky, is as he had invented it: by stretching strings across a tortoise shell. Hermes gave it to his half-brother Apollo, who in turn gave it to the legendary musician Orpheus.

The astronomical event times given are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan (EDT, UT – 4 hours). They may be different for your location.

*Vega’s rival for the fourth spot on the brightness list is Arcturus to it’s west. Wikipedia’s source says that Arcturus is slightly brighter. Stellarium’s source says Vega is brighter. The difference is a few hundredths of a magnitude. However, they are of different colors. Vega is pure white, while Arcturus is yellow-orange because it has a cooler surface temperature than Vega. Check them out for yourself.

Addendum

Annimated Lyra finder chart

Animated Lyra finder chart. The lyre image not supplied by Stellarium but is from The World’s Earliest Music by Hermann Smith, Figure 60, A Project Gutenberg E-Book, and captioned “The Chelys or Greek Tortoiseshell Lyre”. The three names stars are the stars of the Summer Triangle in the eastern sky these evenings of late June. Created using Stellarium.