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Posts Tagged ‘Big Dipper’

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/

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.

04/23/2018 – Ephemeris – The Ursa Major Association

April 23, 2018 Comments off

Ephemeris for Monday, April 23rd. The Sun rises at 6:45. It’ll be up for 13 hours and 52 minutes, setting at 8:37. The Moon, 1 day past first quarter, will set at 4:15 tomorrow morning.

The usual impression is to think that the stars of a constellation are actually located close together. This is usually not true. The stars of a constellation can be at vastly different distances. The Big Dipper is different. The five stars, excepting the two end stars of the dipper and 12 other dimmer stars in the general area are of similar distance and have the same motion through space. The group is called the Ursa Major Moving Cluster or Ursa Major Association, and is moving about 9 miles per second relative to the solar system to the east and south. An association is a rather loose, sparse star cluster. This association lies about 75 light years away. If it were five times farther away, it would be the same distance as the Pleiades.

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

Addendum

The Big Dipper

Craig Brown’s drawing of where the stars of the Big Dipper are and are heading. Click on the image to go to Craig’s WordPress post.

04/19/2018 – Ephemeris – The Big Dipper’s stars Mizar and Alcor

April 19, 2018 Comments off

Ephemeris for Thursday, April 19th. The Sun rises at 6:51. It’ll be up for 13 hours and 41 minutes, setting at 8:32. The Moon, 3 days before first quarter, will set at 12:47 tomorrow morning.

The most interesting star in the Big Dipper is Mizar and its dim companion Alcor. It is the second star from the end of the handle, where the bend in the handle takes place. Folks with good vision can see the dimmer star right next to Mizar. In ancient times it was used as an eye test for visual acuity for warriors as such it was known as the “Horse and the Rider”.

Mizar is second magnitude, in the second rank of star brightness invented by the Greek astronomer Hipparchus in the 2nd century BC. He ranked stars in 6 classes, from first magnitude for the brightest to 6th for the dimmest visible to the naked eye. Alcor comes in at 4th magnitude. It does suffer a bit by being close to Mizar which is 6 times brighter.

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

Addendum

The Big Dipper with Mizar & Alcor

The Big Dipper, almost overhead at 10 p.m. April 19 with Mizar and Alcor pointed out. Created using Stellarium.

Telescopic Mizar and Alcor

A view of Mizar and Alcor as seen in a telescope. Mizar is itself a binary star. In actuality both components of Mizar and Alcor are spectroscopic binaries, which are too close to split, but their presence is detected by their Doppler motions with spectrographs. Created using Stellarium.

04/09/2018 – Ephemeris – Follow the arc to Arcturus

April 9, 2018 Comments off

Ephemeris for Monday, April 9th. The Sun will rise at 7:09. It’ll be up for 13 hours and 11 minutes, setting at 8:20. The Moon, 1 day past last quarter, will rise at 4:40 tomorrow morning.

The fourth brightest night-time star is now up in the east. It is Arcturus, a bright star with an orange hue. It can be found otherwise by finding the Big Dipper and tracing out and extending the curve of the handle and remembering the line “Follow the arc of the handle to Arcturus”. To remember the name of the star and how to find it. Arcturus is about 37 light years from us and is moving quite rapidly across the sky, compared to most stars, though one would not notice it to the naked eye in one’s lifetime. Arcturus is slightly more massive than our Sun, and about 7 billion years old, and is entering its red giant stage of life after using all the hydrogen fuel in its core. Our Sun, being slightly less massive will survive on hydrogen a bit longer.

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

Addendum

Arc to Arcturus

Look high in the east on a spring evening to follow the arc of the Big Dipper’s handle to Arcturus. Created using Stellarium ans GIMP.

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