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Posts Tagged ‘Capella’

12/10/2015 – Ephemeris – What’s a charioteer doing holding goats?

December 10, 2015 Comments off

Ephemeris for Thursday, December 10th.  The Sun will rise at 8:08.  It’ll be up for 8 hours and 53 minutes, setting at 5:02.   The Moon, 1 day before new, will rise at 7:59 tomorrow morning.

Rising now more than half way up the sky in the east at 9 p.m. will be the bright star Capella and its pentagonal constellation Auriga the Charioteer.  Auriga appears to be hunched down sideways in the sky in his chariot carrying 4 goats.  Capella is the mother goat, and a slim triangle of stars near her are her kids.  Perhaps the kids in the chariot were such a distraction that he crashed.  So maybe the gods placed them in the sky as a warning.   In fact that triangle is an asterism widely known as the Kids.  The Milky Way runs through Auriga and it is the home of several star clusters that appear as fuzzy spots in binoculars.  Capella for us in northern Michigan never sets.  It is a winter star that can be seen year round.  It’s disconcerting to spot it scraping the northern horizon in July.

Times 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. December 10, 2015. Created using Stellarium and GIMP.

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11/20/2015 – Ephemeris – Finding the bright stars of November

November 20, 2015 Comments off

Ephemeris for Friday, November 20th.  The Sun will rise at 7:46.  It’ll be up for 9 hours and 24 minutes, setting at 5:10.   The Moon, 1 day past first quarter, will set at 2:17 tomorrow morning.

The Moon is beginning to brighten up the sky making constellation spotting somewhat difficult, so I thought we’d look for the brightest stars.  High in the west are the three stars of the Summer Triangle.  At the bottom in the southwest is Altair, the first of these to set.  A bit north of west the brightest, Vega.  Highest in the west is Deneb, which won’t officially set for those Interlochen northward.  Low in the south is the loneliest star Fomalhaut.  In the northeast is the winter star Capella, which also doesn’t set for the IPR listener area, but spends summer nights hiding behind hills and trees in the north.  Low in the east is the last of our bright stars, Aldebaran in Taurus the bull, which will be playing hide and seek with the Moon next week.

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

Addendum

Autumn bright stars

The bright first magnitude stars of autumn shown for 8 p.m. November 20, 2015. If you are closer to your time meridian, we’re 43 minutes behind ours, you will see two more bright stars in the east: Red Betelgeuse and blue-white Rigel. Created using Stellarium.

02/16/2015 – Ephemeris – The Winter Circle

February 16, 2015 Comments off

Feb 16.  This is Bob Moler with Ephemeris for President’s Day, Monday, February 16th.  The sun will rise at 7:42.  It’ll be up for 10 hours and 30 minutes, setting at 6:12.   The moon, 2 days before new, will rise at 6:25 tomorrow morning.

The winter skies are blessed with more first magnitude stars than any other season.  That’s a full one-third of the total are seen is a relatively small area.  Six of these stars lie in a large circle centered on the seventh.  This circle is up at 9 p.m.  Starting high overhead is Capella in Auriga the charioteer.  Moving down clockwise is Aldebaran in the face of Taurus the Bull.  Then down to Orion’s knee we find Rigel.  Down and left is the brightest star of all Sirius the Dog Star in Canis Major, lowest of these stars in the south-southeast.  Moving up and left is Procyon in Canis Minor, Above Procyon is Pollux in Gemini the twins.  All these are centered on Betelgeuse the bright red star in Orion’s shoulder.

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

Addendum

The Winter Circle of 1st magnitude stars

The Winter Circle of 1st magnitude stars

12/18/2014 – Ephemeris – Capella’s kids

December 18, 2014 Comments off

Ephemeris for Thursday, 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, 3 days before new, will rise at 5:23 tomorrow morning.

Tuesday I talked about the bright star Capella in the constellation Auriga the charioteer,  the brightest star in the eastern sky until Jupiter rises around 9:30.  I mentioned a slim triangle of stars called the Kids, offspring of the mama goat Capella.  The star at the tip of that slim triangle is designated by the Greek letter epsilon and so in known as Epsilon Aurigae.  It was discovered to be variable in brightness in 1821.  It turns out to be an eclipsing binary, where stars eclipse each other.  Only the period between eclipses is 27 years, and the eclipses last about 2 years.  Typical eclipsing binary stars have periods of days and the eclipses last hours.  The eclipsing star has a large debris ring around it that’s also eclipsing the other star.

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

Addendum

Capella and the Kids

Capella and her kids. at 9 p.m. December 18, 2014. Created using Stellarium.

12/16/2014 – Ephemeris – Capella, the winter star that won’t set

December 17, 2014 Comments off

Ephemeris for Tuesday, December 16th.  The Sun will rise at 8:13.  It’ll be up for 8 hours and 49 minutes, setting at 5:03.   The moon, 2 days past last quarter, will rise at 3:17 tomorrow morning.

The bright star Capella is the only winter star I mention in the summer that still can be seen in the evening.  That’s because it never sets for observers north of Ludington.  It’s a constant reminder that winter is always just around the corner.  Well this week it really is.  It’s the brightest star in the eastern sky at 8 p.m. and for some time thereafter until Jupiter rises.  Capella is in the constellation of Auriga the charioteer, a pentagonal constellation to my eyes.  Capella means, essentially mama goat.  Her three kids are the stars in a thin triangle to her right.  Capella is actually a very close binary star, where the stars are too close to be optically separated.  Breaking up the light with a spectroscope reveals its true nature.

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

Addendum

Capella in Auriga with Taurus

Capella in the constellation of Auriga at 9 p.m. on December 16, 2014. Created using Stellarium.

09/25/2014 – Ephemeris – Capella rising

September 25, 2014 Comments off

Ephemeris for Thursday, September 25th.  The sun will rise at 7:33.  It’ll be up for 12 hours and 1 minute, setting at 7:34.   The moon, 1 day past new, will set at 8:13 this evening.

A bright star called Capella has slowly been rising in the northeastern sky in the evenings for the past few months.  At 9 p.m. now it is low in the north-northeast far below the letter “W” shaped constellation of Cassiopeia.  This winter Capella will be overhead the highest of winter’s seven brilliant first magnitude stars.  Capella never quite sets for anyone north of Ludington.  It is what is called a circumpolar star.  Due to its brightness, and being the closest first magnitude star to the north pole, Capella appears to move slowly as the earth rotates, and spends summer and autumn evenings close to the horizon, and has in years past elicited a few phone calls and other queries about that ‘bright object in the northeast’.  When it’s higher the rest of its constellation Auriga the Charioteer will be visible.

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

Addendum

Capella rising

Capella cruising up from the north (thanks to the Earth’s rotation) on September 25 at 9 p.m. Created using Stellarium.

02/20/2014 – Ephemeris – Winter Circle plus 1

February 20, 2014 Comments off

Ephemeris for Thursday, February 20th.  The sun will rise at 7:34.  It’ll be up for 10 hours and 43 minutes, setting at 6:18.   The moon, 2 days before last quarter, will rise at 12:27 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.  This circle is up at 9 p.m.  Starting high overhead is Capella in Auriga the charioteer.  Moving down clockwise is Aldebaran in the face of Taurus the Bull.  Then down to Orion’s knee we find Rigel.  Down and left is the brightest star of all Sirius the Dog Star in Canis Major, lowest of these stars in the south-southeast.  Moving up and left is Procyon in Canis Minor, Above Procyon is Pollux in Gemini the twins.  All these are centered on Betelgeuse the bright red star in Orion’s shoulder.  The interloper this year is Jupiter which is situated in Gemini and outshines them all.

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

Addendum

Winter Circle

The Winter Circle plus Jupiter at 9 p.m. on February 20, 2014. Created using Stellarium.