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Archive for the ‘Constellations’ Category

07/02/2019 – Ephemeris – Looking for Draco the Dragon

July 2, 2019 Comments off

Ephemeris for Tuesday, July 2nd. Today the Sun will be up for 15 hours and 30 minutes, setting at 9:31, and it will rise tomorrow at 6:02. The Moon is new today, and won’t be visible.

Later today Chile and Argentina will experience a total solar eclipse. High in the northern sky at 11 p.m. lies the twisted constellation, that of Draco the dragon. This dragon is more like the snakelike Chinese dragon than the dinosaur-like dragon of European legend. I find it better to start at the tail of Draco, to trace him out in the stars. Draco’s tail starts between the bowl of the Big Dipper and the Little Dipper. The Dragon is seen in a line of stars that extends parallel to the handle of the Big Dipper before curving around the bowl of the Little Dipper then bends back toward the southeast. The head of Draco is an odd box of stars above the bright star Vega, high in the east. Though not made up of very bright stars, Draco has an easy shape to trace.

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

Addendum

Draco finder animation for 11 p.m. July 2. Click on the image to enlarge. Created using Stellarium and GIMP.

06/27/2019 – Ephemeris – The constellation of Lyra the lyre or harp

June 27, 2019 Comments off

Ephemeris for Thursday, June 27th. Today the Sun will be up for 15 hours and 33 minutes, setting at 9:32, and it will rise tomorrow at 5:59. The Moon, 2 days past last quarter, will rise at 3:13 tomorrow morning.

High up in the eastern sky at 11 p.m. can be found a bright star just north of a small, narrow, but very distinctive parallelogram of stars. They are the stars of the constellation Lyra the harp. The bright star is Vega, one of the twenty one brightest first magnitude stars. Vega is actually the 4th brightest night-time star. The harp, according to Greek mythology, was invented by the Greek 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 great musician Orpheus. The Sun has a motion with respect to most stars around it. Its direction is towards the vicinity of Lyra.

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

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 eBook, and captioned “The Chelys or Greek Tortoiseshell Lyre”. Click on the image to enlarge. Created using Stellarium.

06/24/2019 – Ephemeris – Ophiuchus the serpent bearer

June 24, 2019 Comments off

Ephemeris for Monday, June 24th. Today the Sun will be up for 15 hours and 34 minutes, setting at 9:32, and it will rise tomorrow at 5:58. The Moon, 1 day before last quarter, will rise at 2 tomorrow morning.

The planet Jupiter shines brightly in the south-southeast at 11 p.m. In the area of sky above it lies a large constellation of faint stars called Ophiuchus, the serpent bearer. Ophiuchus represents the legendary physician Aesculapius. The constellation shape is like a large bell, which reminds me of the head, shoulders and arms of a fellow that’s holding the snake like a weight lifter struggling to pull up a heavy barbell. Serpens, the constellation of the serpent is in the sky in two sections. The front end lies to the right as Serpens Caput, and wends its way up towards Corona Borealis, the Northern Crown. Serpens Cauda, the tail rises to the left of Ophiuchus. It’s a rewarding sight, and not that hard to spot.

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

Addendum

Ophiuchus finder animation

Ophiuchus finder animation for 11 p.m. June 24, 2019. Also showing the constellation boundaries. Click on the image to enlarge. Created using Stellarium and GIMP.

 

06/20/2019 – Ephemeris – Hercules wuz robbed!

June 20, 2019 Comments off

Ephemeris for Thursday, June 20th. Today the Sun will be up for 15 hours and 34 minutes, setting at 9:31, and it will rise tomorrow at 5:57. The Moon, 3 days past full, will rise at 12:12 tomorrow morning.

Orion, the hard luck mythological Greek hunter gets a splashy constellation in the winter sky, but the greatest hero of all, Hercules, gets a dim group of stars on the border between the spring and summer stars. At 11 p.m. Hercules is high in the southeast. It is located above and right of the bright star, Vega in the east. Hercules’ central feature is a keystone shaped box of stars, called the Keystone, which represents the old boy’s shorts. From each top corner extend lines of stars that are his legs, from the bottom stars, the rest of his torso and arms extend. So in one final indignity he’s upside down in our sky. Some see him crouched down, club upraised holding the Hydra about to throttle it. For those with a telescope it contains the beautiful globular star cluster M13.

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

Addendum

Hercules finder

Hercules animation showing neighboring stars at 11 p.m. for mid June, Click on image to enlarge. Created using Stellarium and GIMP.

Stars and M13 vusuble in Binoculars in the Keystone of Hercules

Stars and M13 (Great Star Cluster in Hercules) visible in binoculars in the Keystone of Hercules. Click in the image to enlarge. Created using Stellarium.

M13

M13, the Great Globular Star Cluster in Hercules. It takes a telescope with an aperture (diameter) of 6 inches (150 mm) to begin the resolve the stars in it. Credit: Scott Anttila

 

05/23/2019 – Ephemeris – A look at the constellation of Corona Borealis

May 23, 2019 Comments off

Ephemeris for Thursday, May 23rd. Today the Sun will be up for 15 hours and 5 minutes, setting at 9:12, and it will rise tomorrow at 6:06. The Moon, 3 days before last quarter, will rise at 1:37 tomorrow morning.

High in the east-southeast at 11 this evening can be seen a small nearly circular constellation of Corona Borealis, the Northern Crown. It is just below Boötes, the kite shaped constellation off the handle of the Big Dipper. According to Greek myth the crown was given by the gods to the princess Ariadne, daughter of King Minos of Crete. The crown is more like a tiara with the bright star Alphecca at the front. To the Anishinaabe people, who are natives of our region it is the Sweat Lodge. Part of what we call Hercules next to it is the Exhausted Bather, who is lying on the ground after the ceremony. The seven stones that are heated for the Sweat Lodge are the Pleiades, now too close to the Sun to be seen.

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

Addendum

Corona Borealis and Sweat Lodge

Animated Corona Borealis Finder Chart looking to the east-southeast at 11 p.m. May 23rd Click on the image to enlarge. Created using Stellarium and GIMP.

05/20/2019 – Ephemeris – Dark evening skies again and a look at Virgo

May 20, 2019 Comments off

Ephemeris for Monday, May 20th. Today the Sun will be up for 15 hours even, setting at 9:09, and it will rise tomorrow at 6:08. The Moon, 2 days past full, will rise at 11:10 this evening.

One of the large constellations we see in the south at 11 p.m. can be found using the Big Dipper overhead, follow the arc of the handle to the bright star Arcturus, the straighten the arc to a spike to reach Spica, a bright blue-white star in the south. Spica is the brightest star in the constellation Virgo the virgin. She represents the goddess of the harvest, Virgo is holding a sheaf of wheat in depictions of her, and Spica is placed at the head of the sheaf. In the space between Spica and Leo the lion to her upper right is, a great cluster just below naked eye visibility. The Virgo cluster of galaxies. Inside that cluster is galaxy M87 in whose center lies a black hole with the mass of 6.5 billion suns that was imaged last month.

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

Addendum

Virgo finder

Virgo finder animation for 11 p.m. May 20, 2019. Click on the image to enlarge. Created using Stellarium.

Brighter members of the Virgo Cluster. Created using Stellarium.

Brighter members of the Virgo Cluster. Created using Stellarium. Open circles are galaxies, circles with crosses are globular star clusters, outlying members of our Milky Way galaxy.  M87 is just above center in that knot of galaxies.  Created using Stellarium.

Virgo Cluster

A closer look at some of the galaxies in the heart of the Virgo Cluster. M87 is near the center. Created with Cartes du Ciel (Sky Charts).

 

05/02/2019 – Ephemeris – Apollo and the constellations of Corvus, Crater and Hydra

May 2, 2019 Comments off

Ephemeris for Thursday, May 2nd. Today the Sun will be up for 14 hours and 17 minutes, setting at 8:48, and it will rise tomorrow at 6:30. The Moon, 2 days before new, will rise at 6:18 tomorrow morning.

The small constellation of Corvus the crow is located low in the south at 10:30 this evening. It’s made of 5 dim stars, but the pattern is a distinctive distorted box with two stars at the upper left marking that corner. To the right is a fainter constellation of a thick stemmed goblet called Crater. Both appear above the long constellation of Hydra the water snake who is slithering just above the southern horizon. In Greek mythology Corvus, then white, was the god Apollo’s pet. He once bid Corvus to take a cup and fetch him some water. Corvus however dallied and waited for a green fig to ripen. Corvus grabbed a snake and returned with a story on how the snake had delayed him. The angry Apollo turned the crow and all crows to this day black.

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

Addendum

Corvus, Crater, Hydra animation

Corvus, Crater and Hydra finder chart for 10 p.m. May 2, 2019. Created using Stellarium and GIMP.