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Posts Tagged ‘Auriga’

01/31/2022 – Ephemeris – The winter circle of bright stars

January 31, 2022 Comments off

This is Ephemeris for Monday, January 31st. Today the Sun will be up for 9 hours and 47 minutes, setting at 5:50, and it will rise tomorrow at 8:01. The Moon, 1 day before new, will rise at 8:48 tomorrow morning.

The winter skies are blessed with more first magnitude stars than any other season. Six of these stars lie in a large circle centered on the seventh, It’s called the Winter Circle. This circle is up in the evening. Starting high overhead is yellow Capella in Auriga the charioteer. Moving down clockwise is orange Aldebaran in the face of Taurus the Bull. Then down to Orion’s knee, we find blue-white Rigel. Down and left is the brightest star of all the brilliant white Sirius the Dog Star in Canis Major, lowest of these stars in the south-southeast. Moving up and left is white Procyon in Canis Minor, Above Procyon is Pollux in Gemini, the twins. All these are not quite centered on Betelgeuse, the bright red star in Orion’s shoulder.

The astronomical event times given are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan (EST, UT – 5 hours). They may be different for your location.

Addendum

Winter Circle

The bright stars of winter arrayed in a not so accurate circle. Some call it the Winter Hexagon. These stars are what make the winter sky so brilliant on the rare clear night in winter. Created using Stellarium.

01/28/2022 – Ephemeris – Auriga the charioteer without a chariot

January 28, 2022 Comments off

This is Ephemeris for Friday, 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, 3 days past last quarter, will rise at 6:10 tomorrow morning.

The constellation Auriga the charioteer is nearly overhead at 9 p.m. It is a pentagon of stars, with the brilliant star Capella at one of its upper corners. Capella represents a she-goat he’s carrying. A narrow triangle of stars nearby Capella represents her three kids. The chariot, or by some a wagon is not seen in the stars and is supposed to be pulled by four horses, abreast. Or four oxen, or two oxen, a horse, and a zebra. None of these are depicted in the stars. The only constellation art I’ve seen is a man holding a large goat and three baby goats. There’s no chariot, no wagon and definitely no horses, oxen or zebras. What I see is a distinctive pentagon of stars, with one, Capella, brighter than the rest, and a nearby small triangle of stars.

The astronomical event times given are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan (EST, UT – 5 hours). They may be different for your location.

Addendum

Auriga and surrounding constellations

Auriga and surrounding constellations at 9 pm in late January. Created using Stellarium.

Auriga finder animation

Auriga star field, constellation lines and art. Auriga seems to be missing a kid, he’s supposed to have three, I think. Created using Stellarium and GIMP.

I checked other constellation art, and it appears that there are only two kids. I may have been wrong all these years. Yet the asterism of The Kids has three stars.

10/26/2021 – Ephemeris – The bright star Capella is slowly ascending in the northeastern sky

October 26, 2021 Comments off

This is Ephemeris for Tuesday, October 26th. Today the Sun will be up for 10 hours and 26 minutes, setting at 6:39, and it will rise tomorrow at 8:14. The Moon, 2 days before last quarter, will rise at 10:29 this evening.

The bright star that’s been hanging out fairly low in the northeastern sky in the evening lately is Capella, sometimes called the Goat Star. It’s at the top of a rather oddly shaped pentagon of stars that make up the constellation Auriga, the charioteer. A small, thin triangle of stars to Capella’s right is called the Kids*. Her kids. I’m not sure what a fellow is doing holding 4 goats while driving a chariot. Maybe that’s how he ended up in the sky. Capella itself consists of two yellow giant stars, about the same temperature as the Sun, but much larger. Capella is circumpolar for most of northern Michigan, meaning it never sets. It gets pretty low in the north on summer evenings.

The astronomical event times given are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan (EDT, UT – 4 hours). They may be different for your location.

* I’ve always known them as the Kids. Stellarium calls them the Goatlings.

Addendum

Capella and Auriga low in the northeastern sky

Capella and Auriga, low in the northeastern sky. I left the Kids unannotated, but they are easy to find near Capella. An animation created using Stellarium and GIMP.

01/14/2021 – Ephemeris – The constellation of Auriga the charioteer

January 14, 2021 Comments off

This is Bob Moler with Ephemeris for Thursday, January 14th. Today the Sun will be up for 9 hours and 10 minutes, setting at 5:27, and it will rise tomorrow at 8:16. The Moon, 1 day past new, will set at 7:06 this evening.

The constellation Auriga the charioteer is nearly overhead at 9 p.m. It is a pentagon of stars, with the brilliant star Capella at one of its corners. Capella represents a she-goat he’s carrying. A narrow triangle of stars nearby Capella are her kids. The Kids is an informal constellation or asterism. Within and near that pentagon, binoculars and telescopes will find several star clusters, groups of hundreds of stars born in the clump we still see them in. These star clusters will appear as fuzzy spots in binoculars. One called M38 is near the center of the pentagon. Another, M36 is to the east of it. Still another star cluster, M37, is farther east, just outside the pentagon. The M designations come from Charles Messier who 250 years ago ran into them while looking for comets.

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

Addendum

Auriga finder animation

Auriga finder animation showing the Kids, nearby stars including Aldebaran and the sideways V shape of the Hyades (unlabeled) of Taurus the bull and the Pleiades AKA M 45. Created using Stellarium and GIMP.

11/19/2019 – Ephemeris – Spying Capella low in the northeast

November 19, 2019 Comments off

Ephemeris for Tuesday, November 19th. Today the Sun will be up for 9 hours and 26 minutes, setting at 5:11, and it will rise tomorrow at 7:46. The Moon, at last quarter today, will rise at 12:09 tomorrow morning.

As I was driving northward in the country at 6:15 Saturday night under partly cloudy skies I spied a bright star low in the north-northeast. It was Capella, the northernmost of the 21 first magnitude stars, and the 4th brightest star visible from our earthly location near 45 degrees north latitude. It’s in the pentagon shaped constellation of Auriga the Charioteer, which I couldn’t make out due to the clouds and the fact I was driving. Capella has the same color as the Sun, but there the similarity ends. Capella is made up of two massive stars that are so close that they appear as one. Capella is 43 light years away. At that distance a star the brightness of the Sun would barely be visible to the naked eye.

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

Addendum

Low northern stars about an hour after sunset

Low northern stars about an hour after sunset on November 19, 2019. Click on the image to enlarge. Created using Stellarium.

10/18/2019 – Ephemeris – Capella rising

October 18, 2019 Comments off

Ephemeris for Friday, October 18th. Today the Sun will be up for 10 hours and 51 minutes, setting at 6:53, and it will rise tomorrow at 8:03. The Moon, 3 days before last quarter, will rise at 9:59 this evening.

For those with the advantage of a low northeastern horizon, will see a bright star slowly rising, much slower than the stars in the east, or notice its change in position from night to night, moving in the northeast. The star is Capella, northernmost of the bright winter stars. It never quite sets for locations north of the latitude of Ludington (44° N), meaning it’s circumpolar like the Big Dipper. It’s slow motion, due to its position close to the north pole of the sky sometimes makes it seem odd. I’ve gotten several calls about it over the years. Capella is the brightest star in the constellation Auriga the charioteer, a constellation I see as a pentagon, with a small triangle of three stars on one side.

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

Addendum

Capella rising animation

Capella rising animation at half hour intervals from 8 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. October 18th. Created using Stellarium and GIMP.

12/04/2018 – Ephemeris – Auriga the Charioteer

December 4, 2018 Comments off

Ephemeris for Tuesday, December 4th. The Sun will rise at 8:03. It’ll be up for 8 hours and 59 minutes, setting at 5:02. The Moon, 3 days before new, will rise at 6:03 tomorrow morning.

The constellation Auriga the charioteer is half way up the sky in the east northeast at 9 p.m. It is a pentagon of stars, with the brilliant star Capella at the upper left of its corners. Capella represents a mama goat he’s carrying. A narrow triangle of stars just right of Capella are her kids, that is her baby goats. The Kids is an informal constellation or asterism. The Milky Way runs through Auriga, but it’s not very bright here. We are looking away from the center of the Milky Way to the more sparse outer parts. Within and near that pentagon, one can sweep with binoculars and low power telescopes to find several star clusters, groups of hundreds of stars born in the clump we still see them in. These star clusters will appear as fuzzy spots in binoculars.

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

Addendum

Auriga

Auriga and neighboring constellations for 9 p.m. in early December. Created using Stellarium and GIMP.

11/22/2018 – Ephemeris – The little goat star, Capella

November 22, 2018 Comments off

Ephemeris for Thanksgiving Day, Thursday, November 22nd. The Sun will rise at 7:49. It’ll be up for 9 hours and 19 minutes, setting at 5:08. The Moon, 1 day before full, will set at 7:59 tomorrow morning.

Capella is the northernmost first magnitude stars. Tonight it shines in the northeastern sky. First magnitude stars are the 21 brightest stars in the night sky. Capella is the 6th brightest. The name Capella means little goat, though I’ve always known it as the little she goat. Her three Kids are represented by a narrow triangle of stars positioned to the right of her in tonight’s evening sky, though they may be overpowered by the bright Moon tonight. Capella is in the topmost corner of the pentagonal constellation of Auriga the Charioteer. Capella is actually a system of four stars only 43 light years away. And never sets for listeners in the Interlochen Public Radio transmission area, though all bets are off if you’re listening over the Internet from somewhere else.

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

Addendum

Capella with the stars of Auriga and the full Moon
Capella with the stars of Auriga and the full Moon at 8 p.m., November 22, 2018. Created using Stellarium.

11/05/2018 – Ephemeris – Cassiopeia the Queen

November 5, 2018 Comments off

Ephemeris for Monday, November 5th. The Sun will rise at 7:26. It’ll be up for 9 hours and 59 minutes, setting at 5:26. The Moon, 2 days before new, will rise at 6:00 tomorrow morning.

The stars of the autumn skies are replacing the summer stars from the east. Look in the northeastern sky by 7 p.m. and you can find the W shaped constellation of Cassiopeia the queen. Cassiopeia is so far north that it never sets for us in Michigan. It is opposite the pole star Polaris from the Big Dipper. There’s a dim star that appears above the middle star of the W which turns it into a very crooked backed chair, Cassiopeia’s throne. Above and left of Cassiopeia is a dim upside down church steeple shaped constellation of Cepheus the king, her husband. The Milky Way flows through Cassiopeia toward the northeastern horizon and through the constellation of Perseus the hero, which kind of looks, to me anyway, like the cartoon roadrunner.

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

Addendum

Cassiopeia and friends
Cassiopeia and constellations along the Milky Way in the northeast these autumn evenings. (8 p.m. November 5). Click on 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.