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Posts Tagged ‘Milky Way’

08/26/2018 – Ephemeris – The Great Rift

August 26, 2019 Comments off

Ephemeris for Monday, August 26th. Today the Sun will be up for 13 hours and 32 minutes, setting at 8:30, and it will rise tomorrow at 6:59. The Moon, 3 days past last quarter, will rise at 3:13 tomorrow morning.

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 spot in Aquila the eagle.

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

Addendum

Great Rift in the Summer Triangle

The Great Rift finder animation as seen in the Summer Triangle, also showing the constellations of Cygnus the swan and the the northern part of Aquila the Eagle. This image a stack of 5 30 second exposures taken the morning of the Perseid meteor shower the is year in a vain attempt to capture some meteors.

Actual Aquila

Annotated and animated photograph taken of Aquila August 13, 2018 during the Perseid meteor shower. Alas, no Perseids in this photograph. Taken by me and processed using Registax and GIMP.

08/22/2019 – Ephemeris – Scanning the Milky Way in and around Sagittarius

August 22, 2019 Comments off

Ephemeris for Thursday, August 22nd. Today the Sun will be up for 13 hours and 44 minutes, setting at 8:37, and it will rise tomorrow at 6:54. The Moon, 1 day before last quarter, will rise at 12:10 tomorrow morning.

Tuesday I talked about finding the teapot shaped asterism or informal shape in the stars where the constellation Sagittarius is. Once that is found, a pair of binoculars will help find many fuzzy wonders in the Milky Way here. Mostly we are looking at the next spiral arm in toward the center of the Milky Way galaxy. The star clusters and nebulae here are from 5,000 to 10,000 light years away, a good deal farther than the Great Orion Nebula we see in winter, which is much closer. We are also looking at a much brighter and more populous arm of the Milky Way than the one the Sun happens to be in. We are in a vast spiral galaxy whose center is 27,000 light years away beyond the star and dust clouds above the teapot’s spout.

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

Addendum

The sky around Sagittarius and Scorpius at 10 p.m. August 22, 2019. The objects noted will appear as fuzzy objects in binoculars. Dotted circles are open or galactic star clusters which are easily resolved in small telescopes. Crossed circles are globular star clusters, which require larger telescopes to resolve. Squares are emission nebulae, bright clouds of gas, illuminated by the young stars born within them. Click on the image to enlarge. Created using Stellarium.

We call these objects Deep Sky Objects or DSOs.  Unnamed objects are dimmer than named objects.

11/05/2018 – Ephemeris – Cassiopeia the Queen

November 5, 2018 Comments off

Ephemeris for Monday, November 5th. The Sun will rise at 7:26. It’ll be up for 9 hours and 59 minutes, setting at 5:26. The Moon, 2 days before new, will rise at 6:00 tomorrow morning.

The stars of the autumn skies are replacing the summer stars from the east. Look in the northeastern sky by 7 p.m. and you can find the W shaped 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. There’s a dim star that appears above the middle star of the W which turns it into a very crooked backed chair, Cassiopeia’s throne. Above and left of Cassiopeia is a dim upside down church steeple shaped constellation of Cepheus the king, her husband. The Milky Way flows through Cassiopeia toward the northeastern horizon and through the constellation of Perseus the hero, which kind of looks, to me anyway, like the cartoon roadrunner.

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

Addendum

Cassiopeia and friends
Cassiopeia and constellations along the Milky Way in the northeast these autumn evenings. (8 p.m. November 5). Click on image to enlarge. Created using Stellarium and GIMP.

07/21/2017 – Ephemeris – There’s an astronomy event tomorrow night

July 21, 2017 1 comment

Ephemeris for Friday, July 21st. Today the Sun will be up for 15 hours and 2 minutes, setting at 9:19, and it will rise tomorrow at 6:18. The Moon, 2 days before new, will rise at 5:28 tomorrow morning.

Tomorrow, Saturday, the 22nd, there, will be viewing of the summer starry skies at the Northwestern Michigan College’s Rogers Observatory starting at 9 p.m. While starting before sunset, if it’s clear Jupiter should be spotted before 10 p.m. The planet Saturn and its rings will also be featured. By 10:30 the sky should be dark enough to spot some of the wonders among the stars, like star clusters, and nebulae that are the either the birth places of stars or the expelled remnants of dying stars. The Milky Way takes over the dark sky, it is its wonders that we see. The Observatory is located south of Traverse City on Birmley road. Take Garfield Road two traffic lights south of South Airport Road to turn right at Birmley Road.

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

07/17/2017 – Ephemeris – Constellations of the Summer Triangle III: Aquila the Eagle

July 17, 2017 Comments off

Ephemeris for Monday, July 17th. Today the Sun will be up for 15 hours and 9 minutes, setting at 9:23, and it will rise tomorrow at 6:14. The Moon, 1 day past last quarter, will rise at 2:08 tomorrow morning.

Aquila the eagle is a constellation that lies in the Milky Way. It’s in the southeastern sky as it gets dark. Its brightest star, Altair is one of the stars of the Summer Triangle, the group of three bright stars dominating the eastern sky in the evening now. Altair, in the head of the eagle, is flanked by two slightly dimmer stars, the shoulders of the eagle. The eagle is flying northeastward through the Milky Way. Its wings are seen in the wing tip stars. A curved group of stars to the lower right of Altair is its tail. Within Aquila the Milky Way shows many dark clouds as part of the Great Rift that splits it here. The other summer bird is Cygnus the swan above and left of Aquila, flying in the opposite direction.

The times given 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.

Aquila finder animation

Animated Cygnus finder chart. Created using Stellarium.

05/16/2017 – Ephemeris – The Virgo Cluster of Galaxies

May 16, 2017 Comments off

Ephemeris for Tuesday, May 16th.  Today the Sun will be up for 14 hours and 51 minutes, setting at 9:05, and it will rise tomorrow at 6:12.  The Moon, 2 days before last quarter, will rise at 1:43 tomorrow morning.

Yesterday I talked about the constellation of Virgo the virgin.  When we are looking at the constellation of Virgo, we are looking out the thin side of our galaxy, the Milky Way.  The Milky Way galaxy is a flat disk.  When we look into the disk we see the milky band we call the Milky Way. That band, what we can see of if is now low in the north, So the stars are much more sparse with the exception of those relatively close to us, like those of the big Dipper.  Beyond the stars of Virgo is a huge cluster of over a thousand galaxies.   Charles Messier, a comet hunter of the late 18th century, ran into quite a few fuzzy spots between Virgo and Leo to the upper right.  Because they didn’t move in relation to the stars, they couldn’t be comets, so he added them to his list of nuisance objects, which we now enjoy looking at.

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

Addendum

Virgo cluster

Some of the brighter members of the Virgo Cluster (of galaxies) as tiny red ovals. The galaxies marked with an ‘M’ number are part of Charles Messier’s catalog. It took a telescope of 8 inch diameter for me to spot them. Someone with better vision, like Messier himself can spot them with a smaller telescope. Created using Cartes du Ciel (Sky Charts).  Click on image to enlarge.

08/29/2016 – Ephemeris – The celestial teapot

August 29, 2016 Comments off

Ephemeris for Monday, August 29th.  The Sun will rise at 7:02.  It’ll be up for 13 hours and 21 minutes, setting at 8:23.  The Moon, 3 days before new, will rise at 5:11 tomorrow morning.

If the ancient Greeks had teapots the constellation we call Sagittarius might have been Teapotius or something.  It’s low in the south at 11 p.m. with the Milky Way rising like steam from its spout.  Sagittarius is supposed to be a centaur with a bow and arrow.  However to us the dearth of centaurs around outside of Harry Potter books, and there being lots of teapots around, and that great children’s song which perfectly describes the Sagittarius teapot.  So the teapot is an asterism, like the Big Dipper, not one of the official constellations.  A pair of binoculars is all you need to spot many fuzzy objects in and around Sagittarius.  Pay special attention to that steam of the Milky way above the teapot’s spout for many fuzzy objects.

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

Addendum

The Teapot

Sagittarius star field showing the Teapot. Credit Bob Moler.