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Posts Tagged ‘Cygnus’

074/26/2016 – Ephemeris – The flying swan and Northern Cross

July 26, 2016 Comments off

Ephemeris for Tuesday, July 26th.  The Sun rises at 6:22.  It’ll be up for 14 hours and 52 minutes, setting at 9:15.  The Moon, at last quarter today, will rise at 1:09 tomorrow morning.

Fairly high in the east at 11 p.m. Is the constellation of Cygnus the swan, flying south through the Milky Way.  It is also called the Northern Cross.  At the left, the tail of the swan or the head of the cross is the bright star Deneb, one of the stars of the Summer Triangle.  The next star right is Sadr the intersection of the body and the wings of the swan seen in flight, or the intersection of the two pieces of the cross.  There are two or three stars farther to the right that delineate the swan’s long neck or upright of the cross, that ends with the star Alberio in the beak of the swan or foot of the cross.  It takes a telescope, but Alberio splits into a beautiful blue and gold binary star.

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

Addendum

CygnusTheSwan Created using Stellarium.

Cygnus the Swan Created using Stellarium.

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06/23/2016 – Ephemeris – Tis the season to view the Summer Triangle

June 23, 2016 Comments off

Ephemeris for Thursday, June 23rd.  Today the Sun will be up for 15 hours and 34 minutes, setting at 9:32, and it will rise tomorrow at 5:58.  The Moon, 3 days past full, will rise at 11:43 this evening.

Now that summer is here, the asterism or informal constellation called the Summer Triangle can be seen in the east as it gets dark.  Highest of the three bright stars is Vega in the constellation Lyra the harp, whose body is seen in a narrow parallelogram nearby.  The second star of the triangle is Deneb lower and left of Vega, It appears dimmer than Vega because its is by far the most distant of the three.  The third star of the Summer Triangle is seen farther below and right of Vega.  It is Altair in Aquila the eagle, and the closest.  Altair is 16.7 light years away, Vega is 25 light years while Deneb may be a whopping 2600 light years away.   With a light year at 6 trillion miles.  That’s mind boggling to think in miles at least.

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

Addendum

The Summer Triangle July 5, 2012 at 11 p.m. Created using Stellaruim and The Gimp.

The Summer Triangle. Created using Stellarium and The Gimp.

08/18/2015 – Ephemeris – The autumn queen is rising

August 18, 2015 Comments off

Ephemeris for Tuesday, August 18th.  The Sun rises at 6:48.  It’ll be up for 13 hours and 55 minutes, setting at 8:44.   The Moon, half way from new to first quarter, will set at 10:31 this evening.

A look to the northeast at 10 p.m. or later will reveal a letter W pattern of stars.  This is the constellation of Cassiopeia the queen.  Cassiopeia is so far north that it never sets for us in Michigan.  It is opposite the pole star Polaris from the Big Dipper.  So as the Big Dipper is rotating down the sky in the northwest, Cassiopeia is rotating up in the northeast.  The pivot is the star Polaris, the north star.  There’s a dim star that appears above the middle star of the W which turns the W into a very crooked backed chair.  Above Cassiopeia is a dim church steeple shaped constellation of Cepheus the king.  The Milky Way flows through Cassiopeia and a corner of Cepheus and up through Cygnus, and on to the south.

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

Addendum

Cassiopeia

Cassiopeia and nearby constellations mentioned in the above program. Created using Stellarium.

08/04/2015 – Ephemeris – Is it a swan or a cross?

August 4, 2015 Comments off

Ephemeris for Tuesday, August 4th.  The Sun rises at 6:32.  It’ll be up for 14 hours and 32 minutes, setting at 9:04.   The Moon, 2 days before last quarter, will rise at 11:33 this evening.

High in the east northeast as it gets dark flies the constellation of Cygnus the swan.  This constellation is also known as the Northern Cross.  The cross is seen lying on its side with the bright star Deneb at the head of the cross to the left.  The rest of the cross is delineated in the stars to the right.  As a swan, Deneb is the tail, the stars of the crosspiece of the cross are part of the leading edges of the wings as Cygnus flies south through the Milky Way.  There are faint stars that also define the tips and trailing edges of its wings.  It is a very good portrayal of a flying swan, like the mute swans we see on the wing in our area.  This is the form the Greek god Zeus took to seduce the maiden Leda in the Leda and the swan affair, out of whose union Pollux was born, who was the twin of Castor, both of whom are also in the stars as the constellation Gemini.  In Cygnus we are looking toward the direction that the Sun and the Earth are traveling as we orbit the center of the Milky Way.

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

Addendum

CygnusTheSwan Created using Stellarium.

Cygnus The Swan Created using Stellarium.

Note for telescope owners:  The star that appears in the eye of the swan image above is Alberio (β Cygni), which splits into a beautiful binary star, whose component  stars are blue and gold.  It takes a bit more magnification than a pair of binoculars provides.

Note also the mythological citation in the program was omitted from the broadcast version due to time constraints.

07/27/2015 – Ephemeris – Deneb, the dimmest of the Summer Triangle stars. But is it really?

July 27, 2015 Comments off

Ephemeris for Monday, July 27th.  The Sun rises at 6:23.  It’ll be up for 14 hours and 51 minutes, setting at 9:14.   The Moon, 3 days past first quarter, will set at 3:36 tomorrow morning.

This evening when it gets dark the bright star Deneb in Cygnus the swan will be high  in the east northeast.  Deneb is the dimmest star of the summer triangle.  Of the other stars of the triangle, Vega is very high in the east, while Altair is lower in the southeast.  While Deneb’s apparent magnitude, or brightness as seen from earth, makes it the dimmest of the three bright stars, Deneb’s vast distance of possibly 2,600 light years makes it over 100 times the distance of Vega.  If brought as close as Vega, Deneb would be almost as bright as the full moon.  It is as bright as two hundred thousand suns.  It apparently has run out of hydrogen in its core.  Once a blue super giant star, it’s currently evolving through the white supergiant stage.

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

Addendum

The Summer Triangle July 5, 2012 at 11 p.m. Created using Stellaruim and The Gimp.

The Summer Triangle. Created using Stellarium and The Gimp.

Deneb & North American Nebula

One of my old photographs of Deneb and the North American Nebula digitized from a slide.

H-R diagram

The Hertzsprung-Russell diagram of star luminosity vs. surface temperature. Note that Deneb is at the top center, while the Sun is lower on the main sequence. Credit: European Southern Observatory (ESO).

07/16/2015 – Ephemeris – The Summer Triangle is the sign of the season

July 16, 2015 Comments off

Ephemeris for Thursday, July 16th.  Today the Sun will be up for 15 hours and 12 minutes, setting at 9:25.   The Moon, 1 day past new, will set at 9:32 this evening, and tomorrow the Sun will rise at 6:13.

We’re almost a month into summer, and the asterism or informal constellation called the Summer Triangle can be seen midway up the sky in the east as it gets dark.  Highest of the three bright stars is Vega in the constellation Lyra the harp, whose body is seen in a narrow parallelogram nearby.  The second star of the triangle is Deneb lower and left of Vega, It appears dimmer than Vega because it is by far the most distant of the three.  The third star of the Summer Triangle is seen farther below and a right of Vega.  It is Altair in Aquila the eagle, and the closest.  Altair is 16.5 light years away, Vega is 27 light years while Deneb is so far away that it’s distance is in some doubt and may be 2,600 light years away.

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

Addendum

Summer Triangle. Created using Stellarium.

Summer Triangle. Created using Stellarium.

08/26/2014 – Ephemeris – The Great Rift

August 26, 2014 Comments off

Ephemeris for Tuesday, August 26th.  The sun rises at 6:57.  It’ll be up for 13 hours and 31 minutes, setting at 8:29.   The moon, 1 day past new, will set at 8:45 this evening.

High overhead the Milky Way is seen passing through the Summer Triangle of three bright stars.  Here we find the Milky Way split into two sections.  The split starts in the constellation of Cygnus the Swan or Northern Cross very high in the east.  The western part of the Milky Way ends southwest of the Aquila the eagle.  This dark dividing feature is called the Great Rift.  Despite the lack of stars seen there, it doesn’t mean that there are fewer stars there than in the brighter patches of the Milky Way.  The rift is a great dark cloud that obscures the light of the stars behind it.  Sometimes binoculars can be used to find the edges of the clouds of the rift, as stars numbers drop off suddenly.  This is especially easy to see in Aquila.

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

Addendum

The Great Rift in the Milky Way. Created using Stellarium.

The Great Rift in the Milky Way. Created using Stellarium.