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10/17/2017 – Ephemeris – The Fisher paints the autumn leaves red

October 17, 2017 1 comment

Ephemeris for Tuesday, October 17th. The Sun will rise at 8:00. It’ll be up for 10 hours and 53 minutes, setting at 6:54. The Moon, 2 days before new, will rise at 6:35 tomorrow morning.

This morning, if it’s clear the red planet Mars will appear just to the right of the thin crescent Moon. Mars isn’t the only thing that’s red now. So are the maple leaves as we advance into autumn. The native Anishinaabek peoples have a story about how that came to be. Of how a magical weasel-like creature called the Fisher or Ojiig brought summer to the Earth from Skyland. For his trouble he was shot with an arrow in his only vulnerable spot, the tip of his tail. As he fell to Earth the Great Spirit, Manitou caught him and placed him in the sky where we see the Great Bear (Ursa Major) and the Big Dipper. Every autumn we see his tail swoop down to the ground where his tail paints the leaves red with his blood.

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

Addenda

The Moon and the morning planets this morning

The Mon with the morning planets

The Moon and Mars at 6:30 this morning October 17, 2017. Click on image to enlarge. Created using Stellarium.

At 00:21 UTC on the 18th Venus will be south of the Moon.  It will be visible from Asia.

The Fisher (Ojiig) paints the trees with the autumn colors

Autumn colors

Autumn colors. My image.

Fisher brushing his tail along the horizon

An animation of Fisher brushing his tail along the horizon on autumn nights. Click on image to enlarge. Created using Stellarium.

The constellation art is part of the latest versions of Stellarium. Ojibwe (Anishinaabek) constellation art by Annette S Lee and William Wilson from Ojibwe Sky Star Map Constellation Guide, ISBN 978-0-615-98678-4.

See the version of the story I learned:  The story of the Fisher Star.

There are other variations of the story, and other adventures of the Fisher.  Perform an Internet search for: Fisher or Fisher Star or Ojiig.

 

 

 

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10/16/2017 – Ephemeris – Andromeda, the chained princess

October 16, 2017 1 comment

Ephemeris for Monday, October 16th. The Sun will rise at 7:59. It’ll be up for 10 hours and 56 minutes, setting at 6:55. The Moon, 3 days before new, will rise at 5:29 tomorrow morning.

The stars of the constellations Andromeda the chained princess look like they’re supposed to be the hind legs of Pegasus the flying horse which is high in the southeast at 9 p.m. Andromeda is high in the east She is seen in the sky as two diverging curved strings of stars that curve to the left and up from the leftmost star of the Great Square of Pegasus. Her predicament was caused by her boastful mother Cassiopeia, and the wrath of the god Poseidon. She was rescued by the hero Perseus, a nearby constellation, riding his steed Pegasus. Andromeda’s claim to astronomical fame is the large galaxy barely visible to the unaided eye just above the upper line of stars, the Great Andromeda Galaxy 2.5 million light years away.

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

Addendum

Andromeda and friends

Andromeda and neighboring constellations that are related to her story. Created using Stellarium and GIMP.

Andromeda at 9 p.m. with the Great Andromeda Galaxy. Created using Stellarium.

Andromeda at 9 p.m. with the Great Andromeda Galaxy. Created using Stellarium.

The Great Andromeda Galaxy (M31). Image taken by Scott Anttila.

The Great Andromeda Galaxy (M31). Image taken by Scott Anttila.  It appears here more extensive than it appears visually to the naked eye or in telescopes.

10/12/2017 – Ephemeris – Is it a flying horse or a moose?

October 12, 2017 1 comment

Ephemeris for Thursday, October 12th. The Sun will rise at 7:54. It’ll be up for 11 hours and 8 minutes, setting at 7:02. The Moon, at last quarter today, will rise at 1:02 tomorrow morning.

A reminder that fall is here is located high in the southeast around 9 p.m. It’s one of the great autumn constellations: Pegasus the flying horse of Greek myth. Its most visible feature is a large square of four stars, now standing on one corner. This feature, called the Great Square of Pegasus, represents the front part of the horse’s body. The horse is quite aerobatic, because it is seen flying upside down. Remembering that fact, the neck and head is a bent line of stars emanating from the right corner star of the square. Its front legs can be seen in a gallop extending to the upper right from the top star of the square. To the Anishinaabek peoples in the Great Lakes region it is the Moose, body where the square is and head where the front legs of Pegasus are.  It’s antlers use the stars of Lacerta the lizard.

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

Addendum

Pegasus and the Moose

Pegasus-Moose animation. The Anishinaabek constellation moose’s antlers in this imagining uses the stars of the Western constellation of Lacerta the lizard. Click on image to enlarge  Created using Stellarium and the GIMP.

The constellation art is part of the latest versions of Stellarium.  Western constellation art by Johan Meuris.  Ojibwe (Anishinaabek) constellation art by Annette S Lee and William Wilson from Ojibwe Sky Star Map Constellation Guide, ISBN 978-0-615-98678-4.

10/09/2017 – Ephemeris – Old World vs New World

October 9, 2017 1 comment

Ephemeris for Columbus Day observed, Monday, October 9th. The Sun will rise at 7:50. It’ll be up for 11 hours and 17 minutes, setting at 7:07. The Moon, 3 days before last quarter, will rise at 10:09 this evening.

Today the United States celebrates Columbus Day , a Monday near the date Christopher Columbus landed on a Caribbean island, and found people who got there at least 15 thousand years earlier. Due to superior technology, and nothing else really, the Europeans conquered the peoples of the continents they called the Americas, deeming the indigenous peoples, incorrectly, as savages.

My astronomical journey started with learning the constellations and their stories from the ancient Greeks. About five years ago I began to investigate the constellations and stories of the Anishinaabek peoples whose ancient lands we live on, which turn out to be as rich and as meaningful as those I learned in my youth from the Old World.

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

10/04/2017 – Ephemeris – Where are the bright planets tonight?

October 4, 2017 1 comment

Ephemeris for Wednesday, October 4th. The Sun will rise at 7:44. It’ll be up for 11 hours and 32 minutes, setting at 7:17. The Moon, 1 day before full, will set at 7:21 tomorrow morning.

Let’s take our weekly look at the bright planets. Jupiter, for all intents and purposes is gone from the evening sky. It will cross into the morning sky later this month. Saturn too is sinking lower in the southwestern sky in the evening. Saturn’s rings are still spectacular in telescopes, but since Saturn is so low in the sky the turbulence of the thick atmosphere makes Saturn fuzzy and seemingly to go in and out of focus. Saturn will set at 10:43 p.m.

In the morning sky, brilliant Venus will rise at 5:11 a.m. in the east with much dimmer Mars below and right of it by half the width of the Moon. Mars is less than 100th the brightness of Venus, and will probably require binoculars to locate. (need a few words more)

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

Addendum

Saturn and the Moon in the evening

Saturn and the Moon in the evening at 8 p.m. October 4, 2017. Created using Stellarium.

Saturn and moons

Saturn and its brightest moons overnight October 4/5, 2017. Created using Cartes du Ciel (Sky Charts).

Binocular Moon

The Moon as it might be seen in binoculars, 8 p.m. October 4, 2017. Created using Stellarium.

Members of the Grand Traverse Astronomical Society and I are invited to the Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival being held for the Chinese exchange students in the Traverse City school system.  Its held on the 15th day of the 8th month of the Chinese lunar calendar, the full moon, which works out to be October 4th this year.  They will be having Chinese food and viewing the Moon afterward.

One of the legends celebrated then will be the Jade Rabbit pounding medicine.  Jade Rabbit (Yutu) is the name of the Chinese rover that’s on the Moon.  And the Jade Rabbit can actually be seen on the Moon:

Jade Rabbit on the Moon

Jade Rabbit and Mortar on the Moon. Credit: Zeimusu, Creative Commons.

I hope they have Moon Cakes.  They sound yummy.

A closeup of Venus and Mars

A closeup of Venus and Mars at 6:30 a.m. October 5, 2017. Created using Stellarium.

Planets and the Moon on a single night

Planets at sunset and sunrise of a single night starting with sunset on the right on October 4, 2017. The night ends on the left with sunrise on the 5th. The full Moon has fallen in the cracks between the sunset and sunrise charts due to its position south of the ecliptic. Click on the image to enlarge. Created using my LookingUp program.

09/18/2017 – Ephemeris – The constellation of the shield

September 18, 2017 1 comment

Ephemeris for Monday, September 18th. The Sun will rise at 7:25. It’ll be up for 12 hours and 21 minutes, setting at 7:46. The Moon, 2 days before new, will rise at 6:35 tomorrow morning.

In the evening sky, in the south after it gets dark can be seen part of the Milky Way. There is actually a constellation here located between Sagittarius the archer, which really looks like a teapot, below and Aquila the eagle above. It’s Scutum the shield of John Sobieski the Polish king who stopped the advance of the Turks at Kalenberg in 1683. Scutum is the only official constellation I know of which is related to a real person. The Polish half of me is very proud. However the stars here are so dim and embedded in the glow of the Milky Way as to be nearly impossible to discern. Scutum lies in one of the richest portions of the Milky Way, wonderful to scan with binoculars and telescopes for star clusters and nebulae or clouds of dust and gas.

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

Addendum

Scutum Finder Chart

Scutum Finder Chart animation. For 9 p.m. September 18, 2017. Created using Stellarium and GIMP.  Click on image to enlarge.

DSOs in Scutum

Deep sky objects in Scutum and surrounding area. September 2017. Created using Stellarium.  Click on image to enlarge.

09/11/2017 – Ephemeris – The celestial dolphin and an arrow

September 11, 2017 1 comment

Ephemeris for Monday, September 11th. The Sun will rise at 7:16. It’ll be up for 12 hours and 43 minutes, setting at 8:00. The Moon, 2 days before last quarter, will rise at 11:27 this evening.

Located below the eastern edge of the Summer Triangle of three of the brightest stars in the sky, which is high in the east to overhead in our sky at 9 p.m., is the tiny constellation of Delphinus the dolphin. Delphinus’ 6 stars in a small parallelogram with a tail, really does look like a dolphin leaping out of the water. The parallelogram itself has the name Job’s Coffin. The origin of this asterism or informal constellation is unknown. Of the dolphin itself: the ancient Greeks appreciated this aquatic mammal as we do, and told stories of dolphins rescuing shipwrecked sailors. There’s another tiny constellation to the right of Delphinus, Sagitta the arrow a small thin group of 5 stars, which represents Cupid’s dart.

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

Addendum

Delphinus and Sagitta finder animation

Delphinus and Sagitta finder animation. Created using Stellarium and GIMP.  Click on image to enlarge.