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Posts Tagged ‘Capella’

12/06/2016 – Ephemeris – Capella the northernmost first magnitude star

December 6, 2016 Comments off

Ephemeris for Tuesday, December 6th.  The Sun will rise at 8:05.  It’ll be up for 8 hours and 56 minutes, setting at 5:02.  The Moon, 1 day before first quarter, will set at 12:08 tomorrow morning.

A bright star called Capella has slowly been rising in the northeastern sky in the evenings for the past few months.  At 8 p.m. now it is low in the east-northeast to the upper left of Orion, rising in the east.  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.  Due to its brightness, and being the closest first magnitude star to the 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’.  Capella belongs to the pentagonal constellation of Auriga the charioteer.

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

Addendum

Capella

The star Capella with the other stars and constellations of Winter rising in the east. Created using Stellarium.

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10/03/2016 – Ephemeris – Cassiopeia the celestial queen, and a look at Venus with the Moon

October 3, 2016 Comments off

Ephemeris for Monday, October 3rd.  The Sun will rise at 7:43.  It’ll be up for 11 hours and 34 minutes, setting at 7:18.  The Moon, 3 days past new, will set at 8:55 this evening.

The stars of autumn are in the northeastern to southeastern part of the evening sky.  Look half way up the sky in the northeast at 9 p.m. and you can find the W shaped constellation of Cassiopeia the queen.  Cassiopeia never sets for us in Michigan.  It is opposite the pole star Polaris from the Big Dipper.    Above Cassiopeia is a dim church steeple shaped constellation of Cepheus the king.  The steeple is toppled to the left.  The Milky Way flows through Cassiopeia and through a corner of Cepheus to the bright star Deneb in Cygnus the Swan, or Northern Cross, overhead. Below Cassiopeia it flows through the constellation of Perseus the hero, which kind of looks like a chicken, to the bright star Capella near the horizon.

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

Addendum

The crescent Moon will appear above Venus tonight.

Venus and the Moon

Looking very low in the west-southwest at 7:38 p.m., 20 minutes after sunset, October 3, 2016. The thin crescent Moon will appear about 4 degrees 15 minutes (8 1/2 moon diameters) above Venus. Created using Stellarium.

Cassiopeia and the Milky Way

Cassiopeia with Cepheus, Cygnus and Perseus in the Milky Way in the northeastern sky. Created using Stellarium.

02/12/2016 – Ephemeris – A circle of bright stars in winter

February 12, 2016 Comments off

Ephemeris for Friday, February 12th.  The Sun will rise at 7:48.  It’ll be up for 10 hours and 18 minutes, setting at 6:06.   The Moon, 3 days before first quarter, will set at 11:19 this evening.

The winter skies are blessed with more first magnitude stars than any other season.  With the moon out these stars will stand out even more, as dimmer stars are suppressed.  Six of these stars lie in a large circle centered on the seventh, the Winter Circle.

This circle is up at 9 p.m.  Starting high nearly overhead is Capella in Auriga the charioteer.  Moving clockwise down to the south, we come to 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 in Canis Major Orion’s large hunting dog, lowest of these stars in the southeast.  Moving up and left there is Procyon in Canis Minor,  Above is Pollux in Gemini the twins.  All 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

Winter Circle

The bright stars of winter arrayed in a circle. Created using Stellarium.

Some also see a Winter Triangle consisting of the stars Betelgeuse, Sirius and Procyon.

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.

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.