Ephemeris for Pi Day 3.14, Tuesday, March 14th. The Sun will rise at 7:56. It’ll be up for 11 hours and 51 minutes, setting at 7:47. The Moon, 2 days past full, will rise at 10:04 this evening.
Welcome to Pi Day. I had some NASA inspired links posted on this blog this past Sunday for your enjoyment. Also simply do an Internet search for Pi Day and lots of fun information and activities will be listed. I remember an exercise in high school calculating pi with an inscribed polygon in a circle of ever increasing numbers of sides. Somewhere in there I messed up and came out with an answer that didn’t quite get there. This was in the years B.C. that is Before Calculators. Speaking of round things, Jupiter will rise this evening followed by the Moon and the star Spica in the east. They will all be up by 10:30. Jupiter is not yet an evening planet, since it is not up by sunset. It’s still seen in the morning sky.
Had I known in the tenth grade this strategy to calculate pi, I could have saved myself a lot of grief. Simply google calculate pi with toothpicks. One of the hits was this from Science Friday: https://sciencefriday.com/articles/estimate-pi-by-dropping-sticks/*. Basically it’s by dropping lots of toothpicks on a piece of paper with parallel lines spaced the length of the toothpicks apart. The total number of toothpicks dropped times two divided by the number of toothpicks that cross a line will approximate pi. The more drops, the closer to pi one gets.
- In the formula in the link, if the length of the toothpicks equals the distance between the lines, those terms drop out of the formula.
Grouping of Jupiter, the Moon and the star Spica
Ephemeris for Thursday, June 9th. Today the Sun will be up for 15 hours and 30 minutes, setting at 9:27, and it will rise tomorrow at 5:56. The Moon, 3 days before first quarter, will set at 12:59 tomorrow morning.
Lets look at the first stars and planets to appear tonight as it gets dark. The first object to appear will be the fat crescent Moon in the southwest. The planet Jupiter will be the next to appear after sunset left and above the Moon. Mars, low in the southeast will appear reddish, shortly thereafter. Looking very high in the southeast, the fourth brightest nighttime star will appear. This will be Arcturus with an orange hue. Saturn should appear to the left and below Mars. Soon other stars will appear including the Big Dipper overhead. Other bright stars will appear, the summer star Vega low in the northeast. Regulus between Jupiter and the Moon and Spica between Jupiter and Mars.
Ephemeris for Tuesday, May 24th. Today the Sun will be up for 15 hours and 9 minutes, setting at 9:14, and will rise tomorrow at 6:04. The Moon, 3 days past full, will rise at 11:35 this evening.
Just about due south at 11 p.m. is the bright star Spica which can be found from all the way back overhead to the Big Dipper. Follow the arc of the handle of the Big Dipper to the bright star Arcturus high in the south, southeast. Then straighten the curve of the arc to a straight spike which points to Spica. Arcturus is much brighter than Spica and has an orange tint to Spica’s bluish hue. In fact Spica is the bluest of the 21 first magnitude stars. That means that it is hot. Actually Spica is really two blue stars orbiting each other in 4 days. Spica is 250 light years away, which is reasonably close. Spica was an important star to the ancients. One temple was built, and aligned to its setting point.
Ephemeris for Thursday, July 9th. Today the Sun will be up for 15 hours and 23 minutes, setting at 9:29. The Moon, 1 day past last quarter, will rise at 2:05 tomorrow morning, and tomorrow the Sun will rise at 6:07.
Let’s check out all the bright stars in the evening sky, as it gets dark tonight. Low in the west are the planets Venus and Jupiter. High in the west is the bright yellow-orange star Arcturus. In the northwest is the Big Dipper, whose curved handle points to Arcturus. Straightening that curve to a spike will point to Spica a blue-white star low in the southwest. The planet Saturn is located in the south. Below and left of it is the red star Antares which usually twinkles merrily. High in the east is the bright white star Vega. To its lower right is Altair, and to its lower left the star Deneb. Vega, Altair and Deneb make the Summer Triangle, whose rising in the east signals the coming of summer.
I talked about seeing the first stars a month ago. It seems that in holding star parties this time of year we spend a lot of time watching the first stars appear. I wanted to discuss the Summer Triangle, but it wandered off to what you see above. I’ll get there next week, I promise.
Ephemeris for Monday, May 11th. Today the Sun will be up for 14 hours and 39 minutes, setting at 8:59. The Moon, at last quarter today, will rise at 3:08 tomorrow morning. Tomorrow the Sun will rise at 6:18.
Friday I talked about that in spring we are looking out the thin side of our Milky Way galaxy’s disk. One of the large constellations we see in the south at 11 p.m. can be found using the Big Dipper overhead, follow the arc of the handle to the bright star Arcturus, the straighten the arc to a spike to reach Spica, a bright blue-white star in the south. Spica is the brightest star in the constellation Virgo the virgin. She represents the goddess of the harvest, Virgo is holding a sheaf of wheat in depictions of her, and Spica is placed at the head of the sheaf. In the space between Spica and Leo the lion to her right is, a great cluster just below naked eye visibility. The Virgo cluster of galaxies.
Ephemeris for Independence Day, Friday, July 4th. Today the sun will be up for 15 hours and 27 minutes, setting at 9:30. The moon, 1 day before first quarter, will set at 1:03 tomorrow morning. Tomorrow the sun will rise at 6:03.
On this patriotic day let’s look for some red, white, and blue stars. Red is easy, the red star Antares is seen in the south at 11 p.m. Mars, the red planet, in the southwest, can be added even though it’s not technically a star. White is easy too, the official white calibration star Vega high in the east at 11 p.m. The blue star is really blue-white. The brightest of these out at 11 p.m. is Spica, low in the southwest. The color is best seen in binoculars. Star colors are quite subtle, and are an indicator of the temperature of their outer gaseous layers. The temperature of a stars outer layers, in order of their increasing temperatures, red, white and blue, is not related to the temperature in their cores. Of these three the coolest on the outside, Antares is really the hottest inside, using helium as fuel.
Red white and blue stars for Independence Day at 11 p.m. on July 4, 2014. Created using Stellarium.
Ephemeris for Monday, June 2nd. Today the sun will be up for 15 hours and 21 minutes, setting at 9:21. The moon, 3 days before first quarter, will set at 12:41 tomorrow morning. Tomorrow the sun will rise at 5:59.
The Big Dipper points to other stars and constellations. Right now the Big Dipper is nearly overhead. The front bowl stars point to Polaris, the North Star which never seems to move in the sky. The handle can be used to find two stars. First follow the arc of the handle away from the bowl to find the fourth brightest night time star Arcturus in the base of the kite shaped constellation of Boötes. Straighten the arc to a spike and continue to the south and you will come to the bright blue-white star Spica in Virgo the virgin. Don’t confuse it with reddish Mars to the right of it now. You can remember these stars with the phrase “Follow the arc of the handle to Arcturus and then spike to Spica”