Archive

Posts Tagged ‘Milky Way’

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.

Advertisements

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.

07/29/2016 – Ephemeris – Aquila the Eagle, third constellation of the Summer Triangle

July 29, 2016 Comments off

Ephemeris for Friday, July 29th.  The Sun rises at 6:26.  It’ll be up for 14 hours and 45 minutes, setting at 9:11.  The Moon, 3 days past last quarter, will rise at 3:20 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, a group of three bright stars seen now in the eastern sky in the evening.  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, which I talked about Tuesday, above and left of Aquila, flying in the opposite direction.

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

Addendum

Aquila

Aquila the Eagle in the southeastern sky. Created using Stellarium.

 

08/13/2015 – Ephemeris – The constellation Sagittarius, toward the heart of the Milky Way

August 13, 2015 Comments off

Thursday, August 13th.  The Sun rises at 6:42.  It’ll be up for 14 hours and 9 minutes, setting at 8:52.   The Moon, 1 day before new, will rise at 6:48 tomorrow morning.

The Milky Way runs from north to south through the heavens at 11 p.m. You’ll notice that the Milky Way is brighter and broader just above the horizon in the south.  In that glow in the south is a star pattern that looks like the stout little teapot of the children’s song, with a the Milky way like steam rising from the spout, which faces the west. This pattern of stars is the major part of the constellation called Sagittarius.  According to Greek mythology Sagittarius is a centaur with a bow and arrow poised to shoot Scorpius the scorpion to the right.  This centaur is called Chiron, the most learned of the breed, centaurs usually being a rowdy bunch.  The center of the pin wheel of our galaxy lies hidden beyond the stars above the spout of the teapot.

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

Addendum

Sagittarius and Scorpius

Sagittarius and Scorpius mythological view 10 p.m. August 13, 2015. Created using Stellarium.

Location of the center of the Milky Way and the Teapot of Sagittarius.

Location of the center of the Milky Way and the Teapot of Sagittarius.

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.