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Posts Tagged ‘Orion’

02/22/2022 – Ephemeris – The Winter Triangle

February 22, 2022 Comments off

This is Ephemeris for Tuesday, February 22nd. Today the Sun will be up for 10 hours and 49 minutes, setting at 6:21, and it will rise tomorrow at 7:30. The Moon, 1 day before last quarter, will rise at 1:26 tomorrow morning.

I’ve talked about the Winter Circle of bright stars already this winter, but some other astronomers talk about the Winter Triangle. The stars involved are Betelgeuse in the hunter Orion, Sirius in Canis Major, Orion’s large hunting dog, and Procyon in Canis Minor, his other small hunting dog. These three stars enclose a rather blank piece of sky with the faint Milky Way running through it and the almost invisible constellation of Monoceros the unicorn. The Summer Triangle has three bright stars with no other close competition. The Winter Triangle has four other bright stars near it. Any three of these would make a nice triangle. One of these constellations, Canis Minor, is tiny with Procyon and one other star. It makes me think of a dachshund, or maybe, if I’m hungry, a hot dog.

The astronomical event times given are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan (EST, UT -5 hours). They may be different for your location.

Addendum

Winter Triangle

The Winter Triangle. It encloses a pretty blank space where Monoceros the unicorn lies. Created using Stellarium with my annotations for the Winter Triangle.

01/31/2022 – Ephemeris – The winter circle of bright stars

January 31, 2022 Comments off

This is Ephemeris for Monday, January 31st. Today the Sun will be up for 9 hours and 47 minutes, setting at 5:50, and it will rise tomorrow at 8:01. The Moon, 1 day before new, will rise at 8:48 tomorrow morning.

The winter skies are blessed with more first magnitude stars than any other season. Six of these stars lie in a large circle centered on the seventh, It’s called the Winter Circle. This circle is up in the evening. Starting high overhead is yellow Capella in Auriga the charioteer. Moving down clockwise is orange Aldebaran in the face of Taurus the Bull. Then down to Orion’s knee, we find blue-white Rigel. Down and left is the brightest star of all the brilliant white Sirius the Dog Star in Canis Major, lowest of these stars in the south-southeast. Moving up and left is white Procyon in Canis Minor, Above Procyon is Pollux in Gemini, the twins. All these are not quite centered on Betelgeuse, the bright red star in Orion’s shoulder.

The astronomical event times given are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan (EST, UT – 5 hours). They may be different for your location.

Addendum

Winter Circle

The bright stars of winter arrayed in a not so accurate circle. Some call it the Winter Hexagon. These stars are what make the winter sky so brilliant on the rare clear night in winter. Created using Stellarium.

01/27/2022 – Ephemeris – Looking at the constellation of Gemini the twins

January 27, 2022 Comments off

This is Ephemeris for Thursday, January 27th. Today the Sun will be up for 9 hours and 37 minutes, setting at 5:44, and it will rise tomorrow at 8:06. The Moon, 2 days past last quarter, will rise at 4:56 tomorrow morning.

Another famous winter constellation is Gemini. The constellation of Gemini the Twins is visible high in the southeast, above and left of Orion the hunter, at 9 p.m. The namesake stars of the two lads, are the two bright stars at the left end of Gemini, and are high and nearly in the east. Castor is on top, while Pollux is below. From them come two lines of stars that outline the two, extending horizontally toward Orion. In Greek mythology the lads were half brothers, Castor was fathered by a mere mortal, while Pollux was fathered by Zeus, but were born together as twins. When Castor was killed during the quest for the Golden Fleece, Pollux pleaded with Zeus to let him die also, so Zeus placed them together in the sky.

The astronomical event times given are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan (EST, UT – 5 hours). They may be different for your location.

Addendum

Gemini finder animation

Gemini finder animation for 9 pm January 27th, showing just stars, constellation lines and star names, and figures of the lads. Click on the image to enlarge it. Created using Stellarium and GIMP.

01/24/2022 – Ephemeris – The Great Orion Nebula

January 24, 2022 Comments off

This is Ephemeris for Monday, January 24th. Today the Sun will be up for 9 hours and 30 minutes, setting at 5:40, and it will rise tomorrow at 8:09. The Moon, 1 day before last quarter, will rise at 1:03 tomorrow morning.

The closest star nursery to us, places where stars are being born, is the Great Orion Nebula, 1,300 light years away. A light year is about 6 trillion miles, if you want to pace it out. It’s located in the constellation Orion’s sword that hangs below his belt. In as little as a pair of binoculars, it shines by emission and reflection of the light of a tiny clutch of four stars at its heart, which astronomers have called the Trapezium. These extremely hot young massive stars are not destined to live long. Unlike the Sun’s 10 billion year lifetime, these stars lifespans will be measured in millions of years. Yet do not mourn for them, even now stars are forming within their dusty cocoons in the nebula. The Trapezium stars’ deaths will provide heavy elements for new stars and planets.

The astronomical event times given are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan (EST, UT – 5 hours). They may be different for your location.

Addendum

The lower part of Orion with the Great Orion Nebula. Created using Stellarium.

The lower part of Orion, with the Great Orion Nebula. Created using Stellarium.

The Great Orion Nebula (M42) long exposure photograph

The Great Orion Nebula (M42) long exposure photograph by Scott Anttila. Includes all the sword stars.

Inner part of the Great Orion Nebula. Image by Scott Anttila

The inner and brightest part of the Great Orion Nebula. Also, visible are the four stars of the Trapezium, whose ultraviolet emissions light up the nebula. This is pretty much one’s perception of the nebula as seen in a small telescope, except it would appear colorless. In larger telescopes, one would perceive a greenish color. The red color of hydrogen is outside our night adapted visual range. The green emission is due to mainly doubly ionized oxygen and the green emission of hydrogen. Image by Scott Anttila.

01/20/2022 – Ephemeris – Taurus and the half sisters of the Pleiades

January 20, 2022 Comments off

This is Bob Moler with Ephemeris for Thursday, January 20th. Today the Sun will be up for 9 hours and 21 minutes, setting at 5:34, and it will rise tomorrow at 8:12. The Moon, 3 days past full, will rise at 8:23 this evening.

High in the south-southeastern sky, and above-right of Orion, is the bright star Aldebaran. It’s at one tip of a letter V of fainter stars. The group of stars is the face of the constellation of Taurus the bull. Aldebaran is the angry bloodshot eye of the bull that’s charging Orion, whose defending himself with a lion skin shield and an upraised club. The stars in the V, and many more visible in binoculars, except for Aldebaran, belong to a star cluster called the Hyades. In Greek mythology, these are the half sisters of the Pleiades, visible as a tight group of stars above them. The V of stars is actually an upside down letter A, or Aleph, the first letter of the Hebrew and Mesopotamian alphabets. This was invented when Taurus, not Aries, was host to the Sun at the spring equinox.

The astronomical event times given are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan (EST, UT – 5 hours). They may be different for your location.

Addendum

Hyades and Pleiades

The  Hyades (left) and the Pleiades (right) in this photograph I took January 4, 2016. Aldebaran is the bright star at the left tip of the Pleiades (right)  of the Hyades.

Orion-Taurus animation

Orion and Taurus finder animation for mid-January. Created using Stellarium

11/29/2021 – Ephemeris – Orion is rising in the evening sky

November 29, 2021 Comments off

This is Bob Moler with Ephemeris for Monday, November 29th. Today the Sun will be up for 9 hours and 6 minutes, setting at 5:04, and it will rise tomorrow at 7:59. The Moon, 2 days past last quarter, will rise at 3:07 tomorrow morning.

In the east, the central winter constellation Orion the hunter throws a leg over the horizon between 8 and 9 p.m. as Robert Frost told in his poem Star-Splitter. The upright rectangle that is his body on December evenings is tilted to the left as he rises, with a bright red star Betelgeuse at the top left of the rectangle, his shoulder. At the opposite corner is blue-white Rigel, a knee. In the center of the rectangle is a line of three stars nearly vertically aligned as he rises, which represents Orion’s belt. The Anishinaabe native peoples of this area call him the Wintermaker. His rising in the evening heralds the coming of winter.

The astronomical event times given are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan (EST, UT – 5 hours). They may be different for your location.

Addendum

Orion and Wintermaker rising animation

The stars of Orion and Wintermaker rising in this 4-step animation: Stars only, Western constellation lines and bright star names, Western constellation figure, Ojibwe (Anishinaabe) constellation figure. Created using Stellarium and GIMP.

04/02/2021 – Ephemeris – Tonight: Free zoom based astronomy meeting and possible star party if clear

April 2, 2021 Comments off

This is Bob Moler with Ephemeris for Good Friday, April 2nd. Today the Sun will be up for 12 hours and 50 minutes, setting at 8:12, and it will rise tomorrow at 7:19. The Moon, 2 days before last quarter, will rise at 2:42 tomorrow morning.

The Grand Traverse Astronomical Society hold a virtual meeting and program at 8 pm tonight via Zoom. For the program member Dan Dall’Olmo will present A Deep Look at Orion. April is our last chance to enjoy this most wonderful constellation until August mornings. The virtual star party will start around 9 pm, hosted by Dr. Jerry Dobek, astronomy professor at Northwestern Michigan College, but only if it’s clear in Traverse City. It will feature our last look at the Great Orion Nebula, and the first globular cluster of spring, M3, and a host of galaxies. Instructions to join and a link can be found on the society’s website www.gtastro.org.

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

Addendum

Orion as shown in the evening
Orion, with some of its deep sky objects, in the southwest tonight April 2, 2021 at 9:30 pm. Created using Stellarium.
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03/09/2021 – Ephemeris – A celestial warning to keep off thin ice

March 9, 2021 Comments off

This is Ephemeris for Tuesday, March 9th. Today the Sun will be up for 11 hours and 35 minutes, setting at 6:41, and it will rise tomorrow at 7:03. The Moon, halfway from last quarter to new, will rise at 6:12 tomorrow morning.

The native Anishinaabe peoples of the Great Lakes Region, which includes the tribes of our area, have one constellation of winter I know of. It is The Wintermaker which uses many of Orion’s stars and whose arms stretch from Aldebaran in Taurus the bull to Procyon the Little Dog Star, embracing the whole of the winter sky. Now that spring is nearly here he is sinking into the west, losing to the heat of the Sun. The first constellation of spring is Curly Tail, or the Great Underwater Panther. It uses the stars of Leo the lion’s backward question mark as its curly tail and the small knot of stars that are the head of Hydra the water snake below Cancer the crab as its head. His warning: Keep off the thinning ice or break through and be snatched by the great panther that lives below.

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

Addendum

Great Underwater Panther finder animation

The Great Underwater Panther finder animation. Three frame animation of Unannotated sky, International Astronomical Union constellations, and Anishinaabe (Ojibwe) constellations of Curly Tail and Wintermaker. Click on the image to enlarge. Created using Stellarium and GIMP. Additional credits below.

The time is set for the above image is 10 pm on March 9th.

The constellation art is part of the latest versions of Stellarium. Ojibwe (Anishinaabe) constellation art by Annette S Lee and William Wilson from Ojibwe Sky Star Map Constellation Guide, ISBN 978-0-615-98678-4. There is also an Ojibwe Sky Star Map poster suitable for framing.

02/04/2021 – Ephemeris – Finding Orion’s larger hunting dog

February 4, 2021 Comments off

This is Bob Moler with Ephemeris for Thursday, February 4th. Today the Sun will be up for 9 hours and 58 minutes, setting at 5:56, and it will rise tomorrow at 7:56. The Moon, at last quarter today, will rise at 2:19 tomorrow morning.

The great winter constellation or star group Orion the hunter, is located in the southern sky at 9 p.m. His elongated rectangle of a torso is vertical. In the center of the rectangle are three stars in a line that make his belt. As a hunter, especially one of old, he has two hunting dogs. The larger, Canis Major can be found by following the three belt stars of Orion down and to the left. They point to Sirius, the brightest night-time star, also known as the Dog Star. It’s in the heart of a stick figure dog low in the southeast facing Orion that appears to be begging. There’s a fine star cluster, called Messier, or M 41, at the 5 o’clock position from Sirius. It’s easily visible in binoculars or a small telescope.

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

Addendum

Orion and his hunting dogs

Orion and his hunting dogs with pointers as seen February. I didn’t have time in the program to mention Canis Minor, the little dog. I expect to cover it in the future, or you can search for Canis Minor in the search box above. Created using Stellarium.

I did not have time to talk about Canis Minor in this program due to the inclusion of M 41. I plan to cover Canis Minor soon. I have in the past. Search for Canis Minor in the search box above.

Star cluster M 41 finder Chart

Star cluster M 41 finder chart. Created using Stellarium.

M 41 up close

M 41 up close. Image courtesy of Tim Hunter and James McGaha, Grasslands Observatory at http://www.3towers.com

 

01/26/2021 – Ephemeris – A look at the bright red giant star Betelgeuse

January 26, 2021 Comments off

This is Ephemeris for Tuesday, January 26th. Today the Sun will be up for 9 hours and 35 minutes, setting at 5:43, and it will rise tomorrow at 8:06. The Moon, 2 days before full, will set at 7:38 tomorrow morning.

At 8 pm the constellation of Orion the hunter is in the southeastern sky. The bright reddish star at the top left of Orion’s distinctive seven-star pattern is Betelgeuse a star near the end of its life. Being a single bright star, its distance is not well determined and is estimated to be about 550 light years away with an uncertainty of up to 20 percent, which make other estimates that uncertain too, like its mass and diameter. It’s somewhat less than 20 times the mass of the Sun, and a diameter possibly as large as Jupiter’s orbit of the Sun. It is old for a star of its mass, probably 8 million years old, with up to a million years to go on the outside before it will probably explode as a supernova and grace our skies as bright as the Moon for the better part of the better part of a year.

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

Addendum

Orion

The seven brightest stars of Orion in the south-southeast at 8 p. in late January.

Betelgeuse drawing

“This artist’s impression shows the supergiant star Betelgeuse as it was revealed thanks to different state-of-the-art techniques on ESO’s Very Large Telescope, which allowed two independent teams of astronomers to obtain the sharpest ever views of the supergiant star Betelgeuse. They show that the star has a vast plume of gas almost as large as our Solar System and a gigantic bubble boiling on its surface. These discoveries provide important clues to help explain how these mammoths shed material at such a tremendous rate. The scale in units of the radius of Betelgeuse as well as a comparison with the Solar System is also provided.” Credit: ESO/L. Calçada (ESO is the European Southern Observatory)