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Posts Tagged ‘Mintaka’

01/07/2019 – Ephemeris – The stars of Orion

January 7, 2019 Comments off

Ephemeris for Monday, January 7th. The Sun will rise at 8:19. It’ll be up for 8 hours and 59 minutes, setting at 5:18. The Moon, 2 days past new, will set at 6:57 this evening.

The seven bright stars of Orion now shine in the southeastern sky in the evening. Two shoulder stars, Betelgeuse, and Bellatrix, Two knee stars Saiph, and Rigel, In between are the three belt stars in a row, Alnitak, Alnilam, and Mintaka. Betelgeuse and Rigel are first magnitude stars, among the brightest in the sky, while the others are second magnitude. As far as brightness goes it puts the Big Dipper to shame with its six second magnitude and one third magnitude stars. Of course we in northern Michigan have the Big Dipper always, because it never sets. Orion, only about six months. Due to its position straddling the equator of the sky, Orion is seen by all the people of the world. Parts of him are even seen at the north and south poles.

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

Addendum

Orion's brightest stars

Orion’s brightest stars with their names for 9 p.m. January 7, 2019. Click on the image to make Orion a giant hunter. Created using Stellarium..

 

02/08/2018 – Ephemeris – The wonderfully named stars of Orion

February 8, 2018 Comments off

Ephemeris for Thursday, February 8th. The Sun will rise at 7:53. It’ll be up for 10 hours and 8 minutes, setting at 6:01. The Moon, 1 day past last quarter, will rise at 3:09 tomorrow morning.

The constellation of Orion the hunter is visible in the south at 9 p.m. The stars of Orion are interesting in themselves. Starting at the top left of the seven bright stars of Orion’s torso is Betelgeuse the bright red star, whose name means something like “Armpit of the Giant”. The star in Orion’s other shoulder is Bellatrix the “Amazon Star”. Below are the three stars of Orion’s belt, from left to right; Alnitak, Alnilam and Mintaka. Their names mean “Girdle”, “Belt of Pearls”, and “Belt” respectively. Down to Orion’s knees we look on the left to the star Saiph pronounced ‘safe’ which means “Sword”, though it is some ways from the stars of Orion’s sword. Finally there’s the bright blue-white star Rigel whose name means “Left Leg of the Giant”.

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

Addendum

Orion with star names.

The named stars of Orion. Created using Stellarium.

Betelgeuse, pronounced Beetlejuice is the name of a 1988 movie, where Betelgeuse (spelled properly) is a particularly mischievous demon.  Don’t say his name three times, or he’ll come and ‘help’ you.  Oops, I did.  It is a red giant star near the end of its life.

Bellatrix, is now known to most of us now as the first name as the first name of Bellatrix Lestrange from J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter book and movie series.  Other members of the Black family have astronomical names, such as Regulus (Leo) Black, and Sirius (Canis Major) Black.

The names of the belt stars were taught to me by Evelyn Grebel of the Grand Rapids Public Museum in the late 1950s.  She was one of the founders of the Grand Rapids Amateur Astronomical Association.  The names Alnitak, Alnilam and Mintaka have stuck with me ever since.  It was through her that I was able to worm my way into working at the museum’s new then unnamed planetarium.  I also remember being in her office with her, listening to the radio as Alan Shepard made his historic suborbital flight on May 5th, 1961.

Rigel is a hot blue-white star, and will probably become a red giant star like Betelgeuse.  There is another bright star named Rigel, but most don’t know it.  It’s Rigel Kentaurus, the leg of the centaur of Centaurus.  It’s better known as Alpha Centauri, a catalog designation, and the nearest star to the solar system.

02/17/2017 – Ephemeris – The stars of the Belt of Orion

February 17, 2017 Comments off

Ephemeris for Friday, February 17th.  The Sun will rise at 7:39.  It’ll be up for 10 hours and 35 minutes, setting at 6:14.  The Moon, 1 day before last quarter, will rise at 1:15 tomorrow morning.

Let’s take a closer look at the central constellation of the winter sky, the giant hunter Orion.  His most remarkable feature in his Belt of three stars in a straight line.  It’s the brightest, straightest and most equidistant line of stars I know of.  It points down and left to the brightest star Sirius the dog star and up to the right of Aldebaran the angry bloodshot eye in Taurus the bull.  The star names as taught to me by Grand Rapids Public Museum curator Evelyn Grebel in my youth in the 1950s was from left to right Alnitak, Alnilam and Mintaka.  All the names reference a belt or girdle.   Alnitak lights up a faint cloud that can sometimes be glimpsed with binoculars called the Flame Nebula,  Just below it and invisible except in photographs is the Horsehead Nebula.

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

Addendum

Orion's named stars

Orion’s named stars including the belt stars. Created using Stellarium.

Orion's Belt

Orion’s belt stars showing the nebulae illuminated by Alnitak. The Flame Nebula above left of it and the Horsehead Nebula below.  At this scale the horse’s head figure appears as a dark  bump into the left edge of the red glow.

The Horsehead Nebula

The Horsehead Nebula: On the left in visible light from the National Optical Astronomy Observatory, while the image on the right is from the Hubble Space Telescope’s near infrared camera. Infrared light penetrated dust and gas better than visible light. This image is rotated about 90 degrees counterclockwise from the above image.

01/25/2013 – Ephemeris – The star names of Orion

January 25, 2013 Comments off

Ephemeris for Friday, January 25th.  The sun will rise at 8:08.  It’ll be up for 9 hours and 33 minutes, setting at 5:42.   The moon, 1 day before full, will set at 7:23 tomorrow morning.

The constellation of Orion the hunter is visible in the south at 9 p.m. The stars of Orion are interesting in themselves. Starting at the top left of the seven bright stars of Orion’s torso is Betelgeuse the bright red star, whose name means something like “Armpit of the Giant”. The star in Orion’s other shoulder is Bellatrix the “Amazon Star”. Below are the three stars of Orion’s belt, from left to right; Alnitak, Alnilam and Mintaka. Their names mean “Girdle”, “Belt of Pearls”, and “Belt” respectively. Down to Orion’s knees we look on the left to the star Saiph which means “Sword”, though it is some ways from the stars of Orion’s sword. Finally there’s the bright blue-white star Rigel whose name means “left Leg of the Giant”.

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

Addendum

Orion with star names

Orion with star names

01/12/2012 – Ephemeris – Orion’s Belt

January 12, 2012 Comments off

Thursday, January 12th.  The sun will rise at 8:17.  It’ll be up for 9 hours and 6 minutes, setting at 5:24.   The moon, 3 days past full, will rise at 9:40 this evening.

Orion’s belt of three stars is one of the most noticeable star groupings in the sky.  There are no other group of three bright stars in a straight line visible anywhere else in the sky.   The star’s names from left to right are Alnitak, Alnilam and Mintaka.  They are actually a bit farther away than the other bright stars of Orion.  Alnilam, the center star is over three times the distance of red giant Betelgeuse above them and over twice as far as blue white giant star Rigel below them.  Alnilam is 375 thousand times brighter than the sun according to the SIMBAD Astronomical Database.  These three stars were also known as Frigga’s Spindle by the Norsemen.  Frigga also known as Freya is the goddess we get the name of the day of the week Friday.

* Times, as always are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of  Michigan.

Addendum

Torso of Orion centered on his belt.  Created using Stellarium.

Torso of Orion centered on his belt. Created using Stellarium.