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Posts Tagged ‘Coma Berenices’

05/21/2020 – Ephemeris – A star cluster in a most unusual spot

May 21, 2020 Comments off

This is Ephemeris for Thursday, May 21st. Today the Sun will be up for 15 hours and 3 minutes, setting at 9:11, and it will rise tomorrow at 6:07. The Moon, 1 day before new, will rise at 6:16 tomorrow morning.

High in the south at 10:30 p.m. or so is a tiny and faint constellation of Coma Berenices, or Berenice’s hair. In it are lots of faint stars arrayed to look like several strands of hair. The whole group will fit in the field of a pair of binoculars, which will also show many more stars. The hank of hair supposed belonged to Berenice II, Queen of Egypt, in the 3rd century BCE. Coma Berenices is the second closest star cluster to us at only 250 light years away, after the Hyades, the face of Taurus the bull a winter constellation. It’s in an odd spot for a galactic star cluster, which are supposed to lie in the plane of the Milky Way. It’s actually seen at the galactic pole, as far as possible away from the milky band. It’s a matter of perspective because it’s so close to us. It’s still really in the plane of the Milky Way.

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

Addendum

Coma Berenices and the galactic pole

Coma Berenices and galactic coordinated showing how close to the galactic pole it is. The bright star Arcturus at the left edge.  Leo’s hind end is at the lower right. Created using Cartes du Ciel (Sky Charts).

Coma Berenices

Approximate 7 power binocular field of view of the Coma Berenices Star Cluster. Created using Cartes du Ciel (Sky Charts).

Note: There is another cluster in the constellation.  It’s called the Coma Cluster.  It’s a cluster of over a thousand galaxies a bit over 300 million light years away.

04/23/2019 – Ephemeris – The story of Coma Berenices

April 23, 2019 Comments off

Ephemeris for Tuesday, April 23rd. Today the Sun will be up for 13 hours and 52 minutes, setting at 8:37, and it will rise tomorrow at 6:43. The Moon, 3 days before last quarter, will rise at 1:24 tomorrow morning.

High in the southeast at 10 p.m. is a tiny and faint constellation of Coma Berenices, or Berenice’s hair. In it are lots of faint stars arrayed to look like several strands of hair. The whole group will fit in the field of a pair of binoculars, which will also show many more stars. The hank of hair was supposed to belong to Berenice, a real Queen of Egypt, of the 3rd century BCE. who cut off her golden tresses and offered them to the gods for the safe return of her husband from war. Her husband did return safe, and at that same time her hair disappeared from the temple. The oracle of the temple pointed to this constellation showing that her sacrifice was enshrined in the stars.

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

Addendum

Coma Berinices

Coma Berenices and neighboring constellations at 10 p.m. on April 16, 2015. Note that only the upper right star of the upside down L shape actually belongs to the cluster. Created using Stellarium.

Berenice coin

 

04/04/2019 – Ephemeris – A very hairy constellation

April 4, 2019 Comments off

Ephemeris for Thursday, April 4th. Today the Sun will be up for 12 hours and 55 minutes, setting at 8:13, and it will rise tomorrow at 7:16. The Moon, 1 day before new, will rise at 7:51 tomorrow morning.

Midway up the sky in the east-southeast at 10 p.m. is a tiny sprinkle of faint stars arrayed to look like several strands of hair. It’s the constellation of Coma Berenices, or Berenice’s hair. The whole group will fit in the field of a pair of binoculars, which is the best way to see it, and will also show more stars. The cluster contains about 50 stars and lies at a distance of 280 light years from us, which makes it the second closest star cluster. The closest being the Hyades, that is the face of Taurus the bull now about to set in the west. The star cluster appears to be about 480 million years old. It is an open or galactic star cluster, born along the plane of the Milky Way. It appears away from the milky band due to its closeness to us.

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

Addendum

Coma Berenices finder chart

Coma Berenices finder chart 10 p.m., April 4th. Created using Stellarium.

Coma Berenices

Approximate 7 power binocular field of view of the Coma Berenices Cluster. Created using Cartes du Ciel (Sky Charts).

05/10/2018 – Ephemeris – Berenice’s Hair

May 10, 2018 Comments off

Ephemeris for Thursday, May 10th. The Sun rises at 6:20. It’ll be up for 14 hours and 38 minutes, setting at 8:58. The Moon, 3 days past last quarter, will rise at 4:42 tomorrow morning.

High in the southeast at 10 p.m. is a tiny and faint constellation of Coma Berenices, or Berenice’s hair. In it are lots of faint stars arrayed to look like several strands of hair. The whole group will fit in the field of a pair of binoculars, which will also show many more stars. The hank of hair was supposed to belong to Berenice, Queen of Egypt, of the 3rd century BCE. Coma Berenices is the second closest star cluster to us at only 250 light years away, after the Hyades, the face of Taurus the bull now setting in the west. It’s in an odd spot for a galactic star cluster, that’s supposed to lie in the plane of the Milky Way. It actually lies at the galactic pole. That’s an illusion because it’s so close to us. It’s still really in the plane of the Milky Way.

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

Addendum

Coma Berenices finder chart

Coma Berenices finder chart for 10 p.m. May 10, 2018. Created using Stellarium.

Coma Berenices binocular view

Coma Berenices as it might look in a pair of binoculars. Telescopes are too powerful. Created using Stellarium.

04/18/2017 – Ephemeris – How Queen Berenice lost her hair

April 18, 2017 Comments off

Ephemeris for Tuesday, April 18th.  The Sun rises at 6:52.  It’ll be up for 13 hours and 38 minutes, setting at 8:31.  The Moon, 1 day before last quarter, will rise at 3:04 tomorrow morning.

High in the east-southeast at 10 p.m. is the tiny and faint constellation of Coma Berenices, or Berenice’s Hair.  In it are lots of faint stars that look like several strands of hair.  The whole group will fit in the field of a pair of binoculars, which will also show many more stars.  The star cluster is 280 light years away, nearly twice as far as the Hyades, the face of Taurus the Bull setting in the west.  The story behind it was that Berenice was the Queen of Egypt, whose husband was away at war.  She offered her golden tresses to the gods for the king’s safe return.  The hair, was placed in a temple.  However the offering disappeared when the king returned.  Ever since the constellation of Coma Berenices has been seen to commemorate the queen’s sacrifice.

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

Coma Berenices finder chart

Coma Berenices finder chart for 10 p.m. April 18, 2017. Created using Stellarium.

Coma Berenices

Approximate 7 power binocular field of view of the Coma Berenices Cluster. Created using Carted du Ciel (Sky Charts).

Addendum

04/05/2016 – Ephemeris – Coma Berenices, the second closest star cluster

April 5, 2016 Comments off

Ephemeris for Tuesday, April 5th.  The Sun will rise at 7:15.  It’ll be up for 13 hours and 1 minute, setting at 8:16.   The Moon, 2 days before new, will rise at 6:53 tomorrow morning.

Midway up the sky in the east at 10 p.m. is a tiny sprinkle of faint stars arrayed to look like several strands of hair.  It’s the constellation of Coma Berenices, or Berenice’s hair.  The whole group will fit in the field of a pair of binoculars, which is the best way to see it, and will also show more stars.  The cluster contains about 50 stars and lies at a distance of 280 light years from us, which makes it the second closest star cluster.  The closest being the Hyades, that is the face of Taurus the bull now about to set in the west.  The star cluster appears to be about 480 million years old.  It is an open or galactic star cluster, born along the plane of the Milky Way.  It appears away from the milky band due to its proximity to us.

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

Addendum

Coma Berenices Finder

Coma Berenices finder chart 10 p.m., April 5, 2016. Created using Stellarium.

Coma Berenices binocular view

Coma Berenices as it might look in a pair of binoculars. Telescopes are too powerful. Created using Stellarium.

05/08/2015 – Ephemeris – May’s missing Milky Way

May 8, 2015 Comments off

Ephemeris for Friday, May 8th.  Today the Sun will be up for 14 hours and 32 minutes, setting at 8:55.   The Moon, 3 days before last quarter, will rise at 1:08 tomorrow morning.  Tomorrow the Sun will rise at 6:22.

In May we look up to the sky and notice that the Milky Way is missing.  Will not really it’s as if the sky has pattern baldness with the Milky Way as a fringe on the horizon around the north half of the sky.  Overhead, where none should be is a galactic star cluster, a star cluster that should normally be in the Milky band.  That cluster is the constellation of Coma Berenices.  Its is a sparse star cluster of about 50 stars only 288 light years away.  If we were a thousand light years from it, it would appear in the Milky band.  One notes too that the stars of spring are also fewer, not the riot of stars we see in the winter or late summer.  The Milky Way galaxy is a thin disk, and in spring we are looking out the thin side.

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

Addendum

May 2015 Star Chart

Star Chart for May 2015. Note the Milky way in the north.  The Coma Berenices cluster is located between the labels CnV and Com.  Created using my LookingUp program.

Messier objects  in the spring sky.

Messier objects, mostly galaxies (ovals) in the spring sky. Created using my LookingUp program.

Most of the galaxies in the above chart belong to the Virgo Cluster a cluster of several thousand galaxies about 53 million light years away.  Charles Messier was a comet hunter active in the period around the time of the American Revolution at the Paris Observatory.  He made a catalog of fuzzy objects he ran into that didn’t move and thus were not comets.  The Messier catalog, which ran to 110 galaxies, star clusters and nebulae, some added posthumously, became a must-see list of some of the best sights for the telescope.