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04/23/2019 – Ephemeris – The story of Coma Berenices

April 23, 2019 Leave a comment

Ephemeris for Tuesday, April 23rd. Today the Sun will be up for 13 hours and 52 minutes, setting at 8:37, and it will rise tomorrow at 6:43. The Moon, 3 days before last quarter, will rise at 1:24 tomorrow morning.

High in the southeast at 10 p.m. is a tiny and faint constellation of Coma Berenices, or Berenice’s hair. In it are lots of faint stars arrayed to look like several strands of hair. The whole group will fit in the field of a pair of binoculars, which will also show many more stars. The hank of hair was supposed to belong to Berenice, a real Queen of Egypt, of the 3rd century BCE. who cut off her golden tresses and offered them to the gods for the safe return of her husband from war. Her husband did return safe, and at that same time her hair disappeared from the temple. The oracle of the temple pointed to this constellation showing that her sacrifice was enshrined in the stars.

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

Addendum

Coma Berinices

Coma Berenices and neighboring constellations at 10 p.m. on April 16, 2015. Note that only the upper right star of the upside down L shape actually belongs to the cluster. Created using Stellarium.

Berenice coin

 

03/22/2019 – Ephemeris – The Great Underwater Panther

March 22, 2019 Comments off

Ephemeris for Friday, March 22nd. Today the Sun will be up for 12 hours and 14 minutes, setting at 7:57, and it will rise tomorrow at 7:40. The Moon, 2 days past full, will rise at 10:07 this evening.

The Anishinabe peoples of the Great Lakes Region, which includes the Ottawa, Chippewa and Ojibwe Indians have one constellation of winter I know of. It is The Winter Maker which uses many of Orion’s stars and whose arms stretch from Aldebaran in Taurus the bull to Procyon the Little Dog Star, embracing the whole of the winter sky. Now that spring is here he is sinking into the west. The first constellation of spring is Curly Tail, or the Great Underwater Panther. Which uses the stars of Leo the lion’s backward question mark as its tail and the small knot of stars that are the head of Hydra the water snake below Cancer the crab as its head. Keep off the thinning ice or break through and be snatched by the great panther that lives below.

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

Addendum

Great Underwater Panther animation

Great Underwater Panther finder animation relating western to Anishinaabe constellations for 9 p.m. March 22, 2019. Click on the image to enlarge.  Created using Stellarium.

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

03/07/2019 – Ephemeris – Leo the lion rising

March 7, 2019 Comments off

Ephemeris for Thursday, March 7th. Today the Sun will be up for 11 hours and 28 minutes, setting at 6:38, and it will rise tomorrow at 7:08. The Moon, 1 day past new, will set at 7:42 this evening.

Tonight as twilight fades around 8 p.m. the constellation of Leo the lion can be seen rising in the east. The head and mane of a male lion is seen as a backward question mark. This pattern of stars is also called the sickle. The bright star that is the dot at the bottom is Regulus, the “Little King Star”. To the lower left is a triangle of stars that is the lion’s hind end with the star Denebola at the far end. It is said that the reason the figure of a lion came to be seen in the stars here is because lions came from the desert, driven by the heat, to drink from the river Nile the time of the year that the sun was in this part of the sky. Leo can also be found by first locating the Big Dipper high in the northeast, a hole in its bowl drips on Leo.

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

Addendum

The constellation Leo animation

The constellation Leo rising animation. Created using Stellarium and GIMP.

Leaky Big Dipper drips on Leo

Finding Leo from the Big Dipper: Leaky Big Dipper drips on Leo. Created using my LookingUp program.

03/05/2019 – Ephemeris – The Big Dipper rising in the east

March 5, 2019 Comments off

Ephemeris for Fat Tuesday, March 5th. Today the Sun will be up for 11 hours and 21 minutes, setting at 6:35, and it will rise tomorrow at 7:11. The Moon, 1 day before new, will rise at 7:33 tomorrow morning.

While Orion and the stars of winter are still holding forth in the south the Big Dipper is sneaking up in the northeast. Indeed at 8 p.m. the front stars of the dipper’s bowl are half way up the sky, at the same altitude of Polaris the North Star. To the Anishinaabe native peoples of this region the Big Dipper wasn’t part of a bear, it was the hind end of the Fisher, Ojiig in their language. The Fisher, a magical animal of their legends, a weasel-like animal brought warm seasons to the Earth, and serves as a weather indicator. As he climbs the sky in the east he is signaling spring and the maple sugaring season. The Big Dipper is also a pointer to some of the important stars and constellations of spring.

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

Addendum

Ojiig rising

The Big Dipper, as Ojiig the Fisher of the Anishinaabe people rising higher in the northeast at 8 p.m. March 5, 2019. Created using Stellarium.

The Anishinaabe constellation drawing of the Fisher is from Ojibwe Sky Star Map Constellation Guide by Annette S. Lee, William Wilson, Jeffrey Tibbets and Carl Gawboy available locally and online. They are part of the latest editions of Stellarium, a free planetarium program. Links to it are on the right. Other information and links are available within the Sky Lore tab.

My story of the Fisher is here: https://bobmoler.wordpress.com/2012/10/11/the-story-of-the-fisher-star/

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

February 22, 2019 Comments off

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.

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.

02/04/2019 – 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.