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Posts Tagged ‘Sagittarius’

08/24/2017 – Ephemeris – Centaur or Teapot?

August 24, 2017 1 comment

Ephemeris for Thursday, August 24th. The Sun rises at 6:55. It’ll be up for 13 hours and 36 minutes, setting at 8:32. The Moon, 3 days past new, will set at 10:17 this evening.

This time of year when the bright Moon near full is reluctant leave the evening sky the Moon after New is taking its time to enter the evening sky. Three days after new and the Moon sets at the end of twilight. At that time the constellation of Sagittarius the archer is low and due south in our sky. Sagittarius is a centaur, one of two in the sky. These half man and half horse creatures are rarely seen outside of Harry Potter movies. Since we’re more familiar with teapots, the stars here make a very passable stout little teapot of the children’s song. The Milky Way even looks like steam rising from the spout. And as the night progresses or the days go by, the teapot will tilt to pour its tea on the southwestern horizon.

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

Addendum

Sagittarius finder

Sagittarius finder animation for 2017 with Saturn nearby. Created using Stellarium and GIMP

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08/30/2016 – Ephemeris – One of the many wonders in the steam from the Teapot

August 30, 2016 Comments off

Ephemeris for Tuesday, August 30th.  The Sun will rise at 7:03.  It’ll be up for 13 hours and 18 minutes, setting at 8:22.  The Moon, 2 days before new, will rise at 6:14 tomorrow morning.

Yesterday I talked about the Teapot pattern of stars low in the south these evenings that’s better represented in the stars for us moderns than a centaur with a bow and arrow called Sagittarius.  The teapot, spout to the right is appearing to begin to pour its contents on the southern horizon, with steam appearing above the spout.  That steam is the Milky Way.  In that steam, above the spout is a small horizontal line of light.  Binoculars or a telescope will reveal a star cluster there and more haze.  That haze is the Lagoon Nebula, also known to astronomers as M8, that spawned that star cluster.  This is the brightest nebula of the summer sky, and is 5 to 6 thousand light years away, in the next spiral arm inward in our Milky Way galaxy.

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

Addendum

Lagoon Nebula

The Sagittarius Teapot showing the location of the Lagoon Nebula that is visible to the naked eye. Photo Credit Bob Moler.

Objects designated by the letter M are known as Messier objects, from a list made by Charles Messier who was an astronomer at the Paris Observatory at about the time of the American Revolution.  Messier was interested in discovering comets, which when the first become visible are fuzzy blobs without tails.  A comet makes itself known by moving against the stars.  The objects on the list don’t move against the stars, being with the stars or beyond, which we call deep sky objects.  So it’s a list of objects not to bother with, because they aren’t comets.  Today we use his list or catalog of objects as some of the finest objects in the heavens.

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.

08/25/2016 – Ephemeris – Sagittarius, a very strange archer

August 25, 2016 Comments off

Ephemeris for Thursday, August 25th.  The Sun rises at 6:57.  It’ll be up for 13 hours and 33 minutes, setting at 8:31.  The Moon, 1 day past last quarter, will rise at 1:18 tomorrow morning.

Low in the south at 11 p.m. lies the constellation of Sagittarius.  The name means archer, but this isn’t just any old fellow with a bow and arrow.  It’s a centaur with a bow and arrow.  These half man half horse creatures were a rowdy bunch; kind of the ancient Greek counterpart of a motorcycle gang.  The one exception is this centaur, Chiron by name.  He was highly educated, and learned medicine from the great physician Aesculapius, whom we see in the sky to the upper right as the constellation Ophiuchus. His drawn bow and arrow can also be seen in the stars here, pointing to Scorpius the scorpion’s heart.  If it’s hard seeing a Centaur here don’t be disappointed.  To most of us the constellation looks like a stout little teapot.

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

Addendum

Sagittarius and Scorpius

Sagittarius taking aim at Scorpius with Mars and Saturn at 10 p,m. August 25, 2016. Created using Stellarium.

Sagittarius actual star field

Actual Sagittarius star field where the Teapot is easily seen. Credit Bob Moler.

“I’m a little teapot short and stout…” Children’s song.

09/14/2015 – Ephemeris – Another odd creature of the Zodiac, a sea-goat

September 14, 2015 Comments off

Ephemeris for Monday, September 14th.  The Sun will rise at 7:20.  It’ll be up for 12 hours and 35 minutes, setting at 7:55.   The Moon, 1 day past new, will set at 8:35 this evening.

As the Teapot of the constellation Sagittarius tilts and pours celestial tea on the southwestern horizon, it is followed in the south-southeast by the faint constellation of Capricornus the sea-goat.  I’m not sure you’ll see a half goat with a fish’s tail here unless you’ve started Oktoberfest a bit early.  To me, it looks like a big sagging triangle with the point down.  Capricornus is a constellation of the zodiac, and its claim to fame is a latitude line on the globe at 23 and a half degrees south, called the Tropic of Capricorn.  Back a couple of thousand years ago the sun entered Capricornus on the first day of winter, the winter solstice.  Thus the latitude where the sun was overhead at that instant was called the Tropic of Capricorn.  Due to the wobble of the earth’s axis, the line should now be called the Tropic of Sagittarius.

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

Addendum

Capricornus represented in Cartes du Ciel

Capricornus represented in Cartes du Ciel

Artist's conception

An artist’s rendering of Capricornus. A part of Stellarium’s functionality.  The constellation lines are drawn differently than Cartes du Ciel

08/17/2015 – Ephemeris – The celestial snake handler

August 17, 2015 Comments off

Ephemeris for Monday, August 17th.  The Sun rises at 6:47.  It’ll be up for 13 hours and 58 minutes, setting at 8:45.   The Moon, 3 days past new, will set at 10:04 this evening.

The planet Saturn and the red star Antares shine in the south-southwest at 10:30 p.m. In the and around constellation of Scorpius.  In the area of sky above it lies a large constellation of faint stars called Ophiuchus, the serpent bearer.  The constellation shape is like a large bell, which reminds me of the head, shoulders and arms of a fellow that’s holding the snake-like a weight lifter pulling up a heavy bar bell.  The serpent he’s holding is Serpens, the only two part constellation in the heavens.  The head rises to Ophiuchus’ right and the tail extends up to the left.  In legend Ophiuchus was a great physician, educated by the god Apollo, and the centaur Chiron, also found in the stars as Sagittarius, below and left of him.

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

Addendum

Ophiuchus

Ophiuchus, Serpens and Sagittarius with Saturn and Antares on August 17, at 10 p.m. 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.