Archive

Archive for the ‘Constellations’ Category

02/22/2019 – Ephemeris – Orion is a hard luck hero

February 22, 2019 Leave a comment

Ephemeris for Friday, February 22nd. Today the Sun will be up for 10 hours and 48 minutes, setting at 6:20, and it will rise tomorrow at 7:30. The Moon, 3 days past full, will rise at 10:19 this evening.

We come back to the central constellation of the winter sky Orion the hunter, holding out in the south-southwest at 9 p.m. with his three stars of his belt in a straight line, with his shoulder stars above and knees below. In one Greek story he was killed by the sting of a scorpion so the gods made sure the rising of the constellation Scorpius would chase him out of the sky to the west. To the Greeks he was a hapless hero. Orion is mentioned in the Bible in the book of Job. The name for Orion in Hebrew is Kesil, meaning “Fool”. To the native peoples around the Great Lakes, the stars here are those of the Winter Maker, who stretches his arms from Aldebaran in Taurus to Procyon in Canis Minor. When he rides high the evening sky it is indeed winter.

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

Addendum

Orion

Orion as he is seen tonight at 9 p.m. February 22, 2019. Created using Stellarium.

Scorpius chases Orion from the skies

Scorpius, rising in the southeast, chases Orion, setting in the west, from the skies. February 23, at 2:44 a.m. any year.

Advertisements

02/11/2019 – Ephemeris – The stars Castor and Pollux

February 11, 2019 Comments off

Ephemeris for Monday, February 11th. Today the Sun will be up for 10 hours and 16 minutes, setting at 6:05, and it will rise tomorrow at 7:47. The Moon, 1 day before first quarter, will set at 12:57 tomorrow morning.

At 9 p.m. the constellation of Gemini the twins will be seen high in the southeast. The namesake stars of the two lads are the two bright stars at the top of the constellation. Pollux the pugilist, or boxer, is the lower of the two, while Castor, the horseman, is the other star, or rather a six star system. In telescopes two close stars may be seen each is a spectroscopic binary, meaning the lines of two stars can be seen in the spectrum. A faint nearby spectroscopic binary also belongs. Pollux, though a single star, does have at least one planet, over twice the mass of Jupiter orbiting the star at a distance somewhat greater than Mars is from the Sun. Pollux is 34 light years away while Castor is 50 light years away. Not too far away as stars go.

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

Addendum

Gemini with Castor and Pollux

Gemini with Castor and Pollux. Created with Stellarium.

Castor star system

The Castor star system exploded in this JPL/NASA infographic.

02/07/2019 – Ephemeris – Siriusly, folks.

February 7, 2019 Comments off

Ephemeris for Friday, February 8th. Today the Sun will be up for 10 hours and 7 minutes, setting at 6:01, and it will rise tomorrow at 7:52. The Moon, half way from new to first quarter, will set at 9:48 this evening.

At 9 in the evening the great constellation of Orion the hunter can be seen in the south. Its large rectangle of bright stars is now upright, while in the center is a row of three stars, his belt. These stars tilt downward to the left to a very bright star merrily twinkling in the south-southeast. This star is called Sirius, also known as the Dog Star because it’s in the heart of Orion’s larger hunting dog, Canis Major. It is an arc light white star as seen in binoculars or telescope. It’s a neighboring star, just twice the distance of the closest star to the sun at 8.6 light years. It’s name, Sirius, has nothing to do with a dog, but is from the Greek meaning scorching for its brightness or sparkling, due to its intense twinkling.

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

Addendum

Orion's Belt points to Sirius

Orion’s Belt points to Sirius. Created using Stellarium.

02/04/2019 – Ephemeris – Gemini the twins, or are they?

February 4, 2019 Comments off

Ephemeris for Monday, February 4th. Today the Sun will be up for 9 hours and 56 minutes, setting at 5:55, and it will rise tomorrow at 7:57. The Moon is new today, and won’t be visible.

Lets look at another of the winter constellations, and member of the Zodiac. The constellation Gemini, the Twins is visible high in the southeast, above and left of Orion the hunter at 9 p.m. The namesake stars of the two lads, will be at the left end of Gemini, nearly vertically aligned. Castor is on top, while Pollux is below. From them come two lines of stars extending toward Orion that outline the two. In Greek mythology the lads were half brothers, Castor was fathered by a mere mortal, while Pollux was fathered by Zeus in the famous Leda and the swan affair and immortal, but were born together as twins. When Castor was killed during the quest for the Golden Fleece, Pollux pleaded with Zeus to let him die also, so Zeus placed them together in the sky so they could be together forever.

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

Addendum

Two ways of seeing Gemini

An animated look at two versions of the Gemini outlines. First the way I learned them as an outline of the lads. Second the way H. A. Rey from his popular 1952 book The Stars – A New Way to See Them, where the stars are connected to make stick figures. The Stellarium default for Gemini is that of H. A. Rey. My lines are due to a modification of the constellation lines table for the program. Created using Stellarium.

 

01/29/2019 – Ephemeris – The rabbit that got away

January 29, 2019 Comments off

Ephemeris for Tuesday, January 29th. Today the Sun will be up for 9 hours and 41 minutes, setting at 5:46, and it will rise tomorrow at 8:04. The Moon, 2 days past last quarter, will rise at 3:55 tomorrow morning.

Orion, the central winter constellation is seen in the south at 9 p.m. He is a hunter, but he’s preoccupied with the charge of Taurus the bull from the upper right. At Orion’s feet, and unnoticed by him is the small constellation of Lepus the hare. It’s very hard to see a rabbit in its eight dim stars: however, I do see a rabbit’s head ears and shoulders. A misshapen box is the head and face of this critter facing to the left. His ears extend upwards from the upper right star of the box, and the bend forward a bit. Two stars to the right of the box and a bit farther apart hint at the front part of the body. In Lepus telescopes can find M79, a distant globular star cluster, one of the few of these compact star clusters visible in the winter sky.

Addendum

Lepus

An animation showing the stars, constellations and artwork of Lepus, Orion and Taurus. Created using Stellarium and GIMP.

My view of Lepus the hare.

My view of Lepus the hare. Star field from Cartes du Ciel. Desert Cottontail drawing from Arizona-Senora Desert Museum website. Superimposed with GIMP.

01/28/2019 – Ephemeris – The celestial unicorn

January 28, 2019 Comments off

Ephemeris for Monday, January 28th. Today the Sun will be up for 9 hours and 39 minutes, setting at 5:45, and it will rise tomorrow at 8:05. The Moon, 1 day past last quarter, will rise at 2:52 tomorrow morning.

Within a triangle bounded by stars Betelgeuse in Orion, Sirius in Canis Major and Procyon in Canis Minor, called the Winter Triangle appears a nearly starless patch of sky to the naked eye. In here is the constellation Monoceros, the unicorn. Unfortunately for observers without optical aid Monoceros, though large, is devoid of any but the faintest stars. Maybe that’s why no one sees unicorns anymore. It has many faint stars because the Milky Way runs through it. To the telescope it is a feast of faint nebulae or clouds of gas and dust, the birth place of stars, including the red rose of the Rosette Nebula, and the strange and tiny Hubble’s Variable Nebula. It also contains beautiful telescopic triple star system, Beta (β) Monocerotis.

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

Addendum

Monoceros

Monoceros finder chart animation. Created using Stellarium and GIMP.

Rosette Nebula

Rosette Nebula in the infrared from the Spitzer Space Telescope. Credit: NASA/JPL/Caltech

Hubble's Variable Nebula

Hubble’s Variable Nebula photographed appropriately enough by the Hubble Space Telescope. Credit: NASA/ESA and The Hubble Heritage Team (AURA/STScI).

Monoceros DSO finder chart

Looking at some faint objects in Monoceros. NGC 2239 is the star cluster in the center of the Rosette Nebula. The nebula itself is extremely faint. It shows in photographs, but I’ve never seen it visually. The green circle shows Beta Monocerotis, the triple star. All these stars are extremely blue-white hot. Created using Cartes du Ciel (Sky Charts).

Beta Monocerotis

Telescopic Beta Monocerotis. William Hershel, discoverer of Uranus, said that it was “One of the most beautiful sights in the heavens.” Credit: F. Ringwald, Fresno State.

 

01/25/2019 – Ephemeris – Let’s find Orion’s hunting dogs

January 25, 2019 Comments off

Ephemeris for Friday, January 25th. Today the Sun will be up for 9 hours and 32 minutes, setting at 5:41, and it will rise tomorrow at 8:08. The Moon, 2 days before last quarter, will rise at 11:27 this evening.

The great winter constellation or star group Orion the Hunter, is located in the south-southeastern sky at 9 p.m. His elongated rectangle of a torso is tilting toward the vertical. In the center of the rectangle are three stars in a line that make his belt. As a hunter, especially one of old, he has two hunting dogs. The larger, Canis Major can be found by following the three belt stars of Orion down and to the left. There lies the brilliant star called Sirius, also known as the Dog Star. It’s in the heart of a stick figure dog low in the southeast facing Orion that appears to be begging. Canis Minor is just two stars found by extending Orion’s shoulder stars eastward where we find bright Procyon, the little dog star.

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

Addendum

Orion and his hunting dogs

Orion and his hunting dogs with pointers as seen at 9 p.m. in late January . Created using Stellarium.