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Posts Tagged ‘Canis Minor’

02/20/2020 – Ephemeris – The Winter Triangle

February 20, 2020 Comments off

Ephemeris for Thursday, February 20th. Today the Sun will be up for 10 hours and 41 minutes, setting at 6:17, and it will rise tomorrow at 7:34. The Moon, 3 days before new, will rise at 6:53 tomorrow morning.

I usually talk about the Winter Circle of bright stars, but some other astronomers talk about the Winter Triangle. The stars involved are Betelgeuse in the hunter Orion, Sirius in Canis Major, Orion’s large hunting dog, and Procyon in Canis Minor, his other small hunting dog. These three stars enclose a rather blank piece of sky with the faint Milky Way running through it and the equally invisible constellation of Monoceros the unicorn. The Summer Triangle has three bright stars with no other close competition. The Winter Triangle has 4 other bright stars near it. Any three of these would make a nice triangle. One of these stars, Betelgeuse has been the news recently because it is dimming to an unprecedented degree.

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

Addendum

Winter Triangle

The Winter Triangle. It enclose a pretty blank space where Monoceros the unicorn lies. Created using Stellarium with my annotations for the Winter Triangle. By the way, Betelgeuse is currently only as bright as Bellatrix, the star next to the “n” in Orion.

02/17/2020 – Ephemeris – A look at Orion and his hunting dogs

February 17, 2020 Comments off

Ephemeris for President’s Day, Monday, February 17th. Today the Sun will be up for 10 hours and 32 minutes, setting at 6:13, and it will rise tomorrow at 7:39. The Moon, 2 days past last quarter, will rise at 4:27 tomorrow morning.

The great winter constellation or star group Orion the Hunter, is located in the southern sky at 9 p.m. His elongated rectangle of a torso is vertical. In the center of the rectangle are three stars in a line that make his belt. As a hunter, especially one of old, he has two hunting dogs. The larger, Canis Major can be found by following the three belt stars of Orion down and to the left. There lies the brilliant star called Sirius, also known as the Dog Star. It’s in the heart of a stick figure dog lower in the south facing Orion that appears to be begging. Canis Minor is just two stars found by extending Orion’s shoulder stars eastward where we find bright Procyon, the little dog star in the southeast.

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

Addendum

Orion and his hunting dogs

Orion and his hunting dogs with pointers as seen at 9 p.m. in mid February. Created using Stellarium.

12/19/2019 – Ephemeris – What does the bright star Procyon’s name mean?

December 19, 2019 Comments off

Ephemeris for Thursday, December 19th. Today the Sun will be up for 8 hours and 48 minutes, setting at 5:04, and it will rise tomorrow at 8:16. The Moon, at last quarter today, will rise at 1:42 tomorrow morning.

Visible low in the east at 8:30 p.m. will appear the star Procyon, sometimes called the little Dog Star. It’s in the constellation of Canis Minor, the little dog. It will rise at 8:05 p.m. for the Traverse City Interlochen area. Yet to rise at that time is the Dog Star itself, Sirius, the brightest night-time star. It won’t rise until 8:40 p.m., 35 minutes later even though Sirius is west of Procyon. I bring this up because the name Procyon means Before the Dog. At our latitude Procyon rises before any part of Canis Major, the big dog, Canis Major, that Sirius is in the heart of. This is sensitive to one’s latitude. At the equator, say in Ecuador. Sirius would rise first due to its westerly position by 54 minutes. You see Procyon is also north of Sirius and that makes all the difference.

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

Addendum

Procyon rising before Sirius

Stars and constellations in the east at 9 p.m., about 4 hours after sunset, on December 19th. This only works for locations above 30 degrees north latitude. Created using Stellarium.

Procyon and Sirius will for observers located at 30º 30′ north latitude.  South of that latitude Sirius will rise first.

01/28/2019 – Ephemeris – The celestial unicorn

January 28, 2019 Comments off

Ephemeris for Monday, 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, 1 day past last quarter, will rise at 2:52 tomorrow morning.

Within a triangle bounded by stars Betelgeuse in Orion, Sirius in Canis Major and Procyon in Canis Minor, called the Winter Triangle appears a nearly starless patch of sky to the naked eye. In here is the constellation Monoceros, the unicorn. Unfortunately for observers without optical aid Monoceros, though large, is devoid of any but the faintest stars. Maybe that’s why no one sees unicorns anymore. It has many faint stars because the Milky Way runs through it. To the telescope it is a feast of faint nebulae or clouds of gas and dust, the birth place of stars, including the red rose of the Rosette Nebula, and the strange and tiny Hubble’s Variable Nebula. It also contains beautiful telescopic triple star system, Beta (β) Monocerotis.

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

Addendum

Monoceros

Monoceros finder chart animation. Created using Stellarium and GIMP.

Rosette Nebula

Rosette Nebula in the infrared from the Spitzer Space Telescope. Credit: NASA/JPL/Caltech

Hubble's Variable Nebula

Hubble’s Variable Nebula photographed appropriately enough by the Hubble Space Telescope. Credit: NASA/ESA and The Hubble Heritage Team (AURA/STScI).

Monoceros DSO finder chart

Looking at some faint objects in Monoceros. NGC 2239 is the star cluster in the center of the Rosette Nebula. The nebula itself is extremely faint. It shows in photographs, but I’ve never seen it visually. The green circle shows Beta Monocerotis, the triple star. All these stars are extremely blue-white hot. Created using Cartes du Ciel (Sky Charts).

Beta Monocerotis

Telescopic Beta Monocerotis. William Hershel, discoverer of Uranus, said that it was “One of the most beautiful sights in the heavens.” Credit: F. Ringwald, Fresno State.

 

01/25/2019 – Ephemeris – Let’s find Orion’s hunting dogs

January 25, 2019 Comments off

Ephemeris for Friday, January 25th. Today the Sun will be up for 9 hours and 32 minutes, setting at 5:41, and it will rise tomorrow at 8:08. The Moon, 2 days before last quarter, will rise at 11:27 this evening.

The great winter constellation or star group Orion the Hunter, is located in the south-southeastern sky at 9 p.m. His elongated rectangle of a torso is tilting toward the vertical. In the center of the rectangle are three stars in a line that make his belt. As a hunter, especially one of old, he has two hunting dogs. The larger, Canis Major can be found by following the three belt stars of Orion down and to the left. There lies the brilliant star called Sirius, also known as the Dog Star. It’s in the heart of a stick figure dog low in the southeast facing Orion that appears to be begging. Canis Minor is just two stars found by extending Orion’s shoulder stars eastward where we find bright Procyon, the little dog star.

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

Addendum

Orion and his hunting dogs

Orion and his hunting dogs with pointers as seen at 9 p.m. in late January . Created using Stellarium.

12/18/2017 – Ephemeris – The little dog shall lead

December 18, 2017 1 comment

Ephemeris for Monday, December 18th. The Sun will rise at 8:14. It’ll be up for 8 hours and 49 minutes, setting at 5:03. The Moon is new today, and won’t be visible.

The constellation Orion has two hunting dogs. At 9 p.m. we’ll see one of them, the lesser dog, Canis Minor whose bright star Procyon is low in the East. Just two stars mark the constellation. Is it a dachshund or maybe a hot dog? The name Procyon means “Before the dog”, an odd title. It means that though east of Sirius, the bright dog star in Orion’s large dog, Canis Major, it rises before Sirius, due to its more northerly position in the sky. At 9 Sirius is just rising in the east-southeast. In many ways Procyon is nearly a twin of Sirius. It shines with the same white color, although a bit cooler, and has a white dwarf companion like Sirius. It’s a bit farther away than Sirius’ 8.6 light years. Procyon is at a distance of 11.46 light years.

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

Addendum

Procyon rising before Sirius

Stars and constellations in the east at 9 p.m., about 4 hours after sunset, on December 18th. This only works for locations above 30 degrees north latitude. Created using Stellarium.

03/23/2017 – Ephemeris – a single headed Hydra

March 23, 2017 Comments off

Ephemeris for Thursday, March 23rd.  The Sun will rise at 7:39.  It’ll be up for 12 hours and 19 minutes, setting at 7:59.  The Moon, 3 days past last quarter, will rise at 5:48 tomorrow morning.

In the southern evening sky can be found the constellation of Hydra the water snake.  Unlike the mythical monster Hercules fought of the same name this Hydra has but one head, which is its most distinctive part.  At 9 p.m. look to the south.  The head of Hydra is located directly to the left of Procyon the bright star in Orion’s little dog Canis Minor, and to the right of the star Regulus in Leo.  Hydra’s head is a small distinctive group of 6 stars that make a loop and the snake’s slightly drooping head.  At that time the sinuous body of Hydra sinks below the horizon in the southeast.  As it gets later in the evening the rest of Hydra’s body will slither to just above the southeastern horizon below the planet Jupiter this year and the bright star Spica in the constellation of Virgo.

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

Addendum

Hydra

Finding Hydra animation for 9 p.m. March 23rd 2017. Created using Stellarium.  Click on image to enlarge.