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Archive for the ‘Constellations’ Category

06/14/2018 – Ephemeris – The mighty hero Hercules in the sky

June 14, 2018 Comments off

Ephemeris for Flag Day, Thursday, June 14th. Today the Sun will be up for 15 hours and 33 minutes, setting at 9:29, and it will rise tomorrow at 5:56. The Moon, 1 day past new, will set at 10:27 this evening.

Orion, the hard luck 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

Hercules animation showing neighboring stars, constellation outlines, deep sky objects, and constellation art for Hercules. Created using Stellarium. Click on image to enlarge.

M13

M13, the Great Globular Star Cluster in Hercules. Credit: Scott Anttila

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06/12/2018 – Ephemeris – Virgo the virgin

June 12, 2018 Comments off

Ephemeris for Tuesday, June 12th. Today the Sun will be up for 15 hours and 32 minutes, setting at 9:28, and it will rise tomorrow at 5:56. The Moon, 1 day before new, will rise at 6:02 tomorrow morning.

Tonight in the sky: to the south, is bright Jupiter. The brightest star to the right of Jupiter is Spica. It is in the constellation and member of the of the zodiac: Virgo the virgin. Virgo is a large constellation of a reclining woman holding a stalk of wheat. The bright star in the center of the constellation, Spica, is the head of that spike of wheat; and as such it ruled over the harvest in two of Virgo’s guises as the goddesses Persephone and Ceres. Ceres is now a dwarf planet and the root of the word cereal. Virgo is also identified as Astraea the goddess of justice. The constellation of Libra, the scales of justice, which she is associated with, is found just east of her low in the southeast.

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

Addendum

Virgo finder chart

Virgo finder animation for 10:30 p.m. June 12, 2018. Click on image to enlarge. Created using Stellarium and GIMP.

06/11/2018 – Ephemeris – Jupiter and the claws of the scorpion

June 11, 2018 Comments off

Ephemeris for Monday, June 11th. Today the Sun will be up for 15 hours and 31 minutes, setting at 9:28, and it will rise tomorrow at 5:56. The Moon, 2 days before new, will rise at 5:17 tomorrow morning.

Right now the bright planet Jupiter is seen in the south as it gets dark. There is a star visible below Jupiter now. The name of that star is my favorite star name: Zubenelgenubi. It roughly translates from the Arabic, and most star names are Arabic, as “Southern Claw”. This star, also known as Alpha Librae, is in the zodiacal constellation of Libra the scales or balance, a roughly square constellation standing on one corner. The name relates to Scorpius the scorpion to the east who in the Arab’s imagination extended farther to the west. The star farther to the upper left of Jupiter tonight is Zubeneschamali, you guessed it, the northern claw, also part of Libra. It’s the longest star name at 14 letters.

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

Addendum

Jupiter with Zubenelgeubi

Jupiter with Zubenelgenubi, the South Claw and with nearby Zubeneschamali, the North Claw of Scorpius, still rising at 11 p.m. June 11, 2018. Created using Stellarium.

06/08/2018 – Ephemeris – Anishinaabek constellation of the Sweat Lodge

June 8, 2018 Comments off

Ephemeris for Friday, June 8th. Today the Sun will be up for 15 hours and 29 minutes, setting at 9:26, and it will rise tomorrow at 5:57. The Moon, 2 days past last quarter, will rise at 3:37 tomorrow morning.

This past Monday I talked about the constellation of Corona Borealis, high in the southeast at 10:30 in the evening and the Greek mythology that surrounds it. It’s a small three-quarters of a circle of stars sandwiched between the larger constellations of Boötes to the west or right and Hercules on left or east. To the Anishinaabek people, who are natives of our region of which the Ottawa or Odawa, Chippewa and Ojibwe tribes are a part it is the Sweat Lodge. A section of what we call Hercules next to it is the Exhausted Bather, who is a participant lying on the ground after the ceremony. The seven stones that are heated for the Sweat Lodge ceremony 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

Sweat Lodge finder animation

The Anishinaabek constellations of the Sweat Lodge and the Exhausted Bather looking high in the southeast at 10:30 p.m., Click on image to enlarge. June 8, 2018. Created using Stellarium and GIMP.

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.

06/04/2018 – Ephemeris – Ariadne’s crown

June 4, 2018 Comments off

Ephemeris for Monday, June 4th. Today the Sun will be up for 15 hours and 24 minutes, setting at 9:23, and it will rise tomorrow at 5:58. The Moon, 2 days before last quarter, will rise at 1:47 tomorrow morning.

High in the southeast at 11 p.m. can be found a small but easily spotted constellation of Corona Borealis, the Northern Crown. It is located just east or left of the kite shaped constellation of Boötes, with its bright star Arcturus at the base. The Northern Crown is a semicircle of stars, like a tiara, with a brighter star Gemma at the bottom. Despite the obvious allusion of stars to diamonds and the sound of one of the star’s name, this is not a gem studded crown. Gemma means blossom, so Corona Borealis may represent a floral crown. According to Greek mythology it belonged to Princess Ariadne, daughter of King Minos of Crete. She was abandoned by Theseus, whom she helped out of the Labyrinth of the Minotaur.

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

Addendum

Corona Borealis finder chart

Animated Corona Borealis Finder Chart looking to the southeast at 10:30 p.m. June 4, 2018. Corona Borealis is  a small constellation, so I added its neighbors for context.  Click on the image to enlarge. Created using Stellarium and GIMP.

5/15/2018 – Ephemeris – Two thirds thru spring

May 15, 2018 Comments off

Ephemeris for Tuesday, May 15th. Today the Sun will be up for 14 hours and 49 minutes, setting at 9:04, and it will rise tomorrow at 6:13. The Moon is new today, and won’t be visible.

Here we are at the middle of May, nearly two-thirds through spring and in the west only a few winter stars remain. Castor and Pollux of Gemini are horizontal in the west, Procyon the Little Dog Star is below and left of them, Capella in Auriga is in the northwest, but for most of the IPR listening area it will never quite set. At 10:30 Betelgeuse in Orion the hunter will be setting, chased from the skies by Scorpius the scorpion, which is rising in the southeast. In one story it is the sting of this scorpion that killed him. Already at that time two-thirds of the stars of the summer Triangle are up. Bright Vega in Lyra the harp, and Deneb in Cygnus the swan. The Big Dipper reigns overhead as spring is in full bloom.

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

Addendum

Goodbye winter, hello summer

The sky dome for 10:30 p.m. May 15, 2018 showing the stars and constellations. It may not work for any latitude or time, but it works for our location, near 45 degrees north. Created using Stellarium.

05/14/2018 – Ephemeris – Big Dipper: Pointer to the Stars

May 14, 2018 Comments off

Ephemeris for Monday, May 14th. Today the Sun will be up for 14 hours and 47 minutes, setting at 9:03, and it will rise tomorrow at 6:14. The Moon, 1 day before new, will rise at 6:45 tomorrow morning.

The Big Dipper points to other stars and constellations. Right now the Big Dipper is nearly overhead. The front bowl stars point to Polaris, the North Star which never seems to move in the sky. The handle can be used to find two stars. First follow the arc of the handle away from the bowl to find the fourth brightest night-time star Arcturus in the base of the kite shaped constellation of Boötes. Straighten the arc to a spike and continue to the south and you will come to the bright blue-white star Spica in Virgo the virgin. You can remember these stars with the phrase “Follow the arc of the handle to Arcturus and then spike to Spica” or if you prefer the alternate pronunciation of the latter star “Speak to Speeka”.

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

Addendum

As can be seen below, there was one pointer function that didn’t make it into the program:  A leaky dipper drips on Leo.

Big Dipper Pointer to the Stars

Using the Big Dipper as a pointer to other stars. The pointers to Polaris could be life saving, since it is always north. The view is southward. The cross displayed near the center is the zenith. One might want to lay down to take all this in. Created using my LookingUp program.