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Posts Tagged ‘Summer Triangle’

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.

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07/13/2017 – Ephemeris – Constellations of the Summer Triangle I: Lyra the harp

July 13, 2017 1 comment

Ephemeris for Thursday, July 13th. Today the Sun will be up for 15 hours and 16 minutes, setting at 9:26, and it will rise tomorrow at 6:10. The Moon, 3 days before last quarter, will rise at 12:02 tomorrow morning.

Very high up in the eastern sky at 11 p.m. can be found a bright star just above a small, narrow, but very distinctive parallelogram of stars. They are the stars of the constellation Lyra the harp. The bright star is Vega, member of the Summer Triangle and one of the twenty one brightest first magnitude stars. Vega is actually the 5th brightest night-time star. The harp, according to Greek mythology, was invented by the Greek god Hermes. The form of the harp in the sky, is as he had invented it: by stretching strings across a tortoise-shell. Hermes gave it to his half-brother Apollo, who in turn gave it to the great musician Orpheus. The Sun’s motion with respect to most stars around it is towards the vicinity of Lyra.

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.

Annimated Lyra finder chart

Animated Lyra finder chart. The lyre image not supplied by Stellarium but is from The World’s Earliest Music by Hermann Smith, a Project Gutenberg E book, figure 60, captioned “The Chelys or Greek Tortoiseshell Lyre”. Image created using Stellarium and GIMP.

07/11/2017 – Ephemeris – Altair the nearest star of the Summer Triangle

July 11, 2017 1 comment

Ephemeris for Tuesday, July 11th. Today the Sun will be up for 15 hours and 18 minutes, setting at 9:27, and it will rise tomorrow at 6:09. The Moon, 2 days past full, will rise at 10:59 this evening.

The southernmost star of the Summer Triangle is Altair, high in the east-southeast. The other two stars of the triangle are Vega nearly overhead in the east, and Deneb high in the east-northeast. Altair is the closest of the three at a distance of 16.7 light years away. One light year is nearly 6 trillion miles. Altair is 10 times the brightness of the Sun. If seen at Altair’s distance, the Sun would only be as bright as one of the two stars that flank it. What is rather different about Altair is its rapid rotation. While it’s almost twice the sun’s diameter, it rotates once in about 9 hours, The CHARA Interferometer at Mt. Wilson has actually imaged its squashed disk in the infrared. Our sun’s a slow poke, taking nearly a month to rotate once.

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

Addendum

Summer Triangle. Created using Stellarium.

Summer Triangle. Created using Stellarium.

Oblate Altair

False-color image of the rapidly rotating star Altair, made with the MIRC imager on the CHARA array on Mt. Wilson. Credit: Ming Zhao, University of Michigan

07/10/2017 – Ephemeris – Deneb, a super bright star

July 10, 2017 1 comment

Ephemeris for Monday, July 10th. Today the Sun will be up for 15 hours and 20 minutes, setting at 9:27, and it will rise tomorrow at 6:08. The Moon, 1 day past full, will rise at 10:24 this evening.

This evening when it gets dark the bright star Deneb in Cygnus the swan will be high in the east-northeast. Deneb is the dimmest star of the summer triangle. Of the other stars of the triangle, Vega is higher in the east, while Altair is lower in the southeast. While Deneb’s apparent magnitude, or brightness as seen from Earth, makes it the dimmest of the three bright stars, Deneb’s vast distance of possibly 1,400 light years* makes it over 50 times the distance of Vega. If brought as close as Vega, Deneb would be as bright at least as the quarter moon. It is possibly as bright as 200 thousand Suns; and a huge star, possibly as large in diameter as the orbit of the Earth. For all this it is only 20 to 25 times the mass of the sun.

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

* Deneb’s distance is not well known.  Over the years with the Ephemeris program and this blog I’ve given various distances to the star.  Having no companion and being beyond the distance where trigonometric parallax is used, at least from the ground, makes distance measurement difficult.  Hipparcos  satellite measurements give a distance about twice as great.  Estimates of the true brightness of a star are based on its known distance.  An error in distance by a factor of two gives an error in terms of intrinsic luminosity by a factor of 4, due to the inverse square law of brightness with distance.

Addendum

The constellations Lyra, Cygnus and Aquila

Deneb with the other stars and constellations in the Summer Triangle. Created using Stellarium.

Deneb & North American Nebula

One of my old photographs of Deneb and the North American Nebula digitized from a slide. Deneb’s ultraviolet emissions cause the North American and unnamed here Pelican Nebulae to glow.  The red color is due to hydrogen.

06/26/2017 – Ephemeris – Latest sunset and the apparent positions of the Summer Triangle stars

June 26, 2017 1 comment

Ephemeris for Monday, June 26th. Today the Sun will be up for 15 hours and 32 minutes, setting at 9:31, and it will rise tomorrow at 5:59. The Moon, 3 days past new, will set at 11:40 this evening.

Tonight we have the latest sunset of the year. From now on until December sunsets will become earlier. Other than the sunrise and sunset numbers, we’ll begin to notice it for real in a few weeks. At first that realization strikes me a sad note that summer is beginning to end. However the astronomer in me realizes that means more night-time hours, and that the summer Milky Way is coming. Of the three bright stars of the Summer Triangle overhead and in the east, two of its stars are in the milky band. They are Deneb to the north and Altair to the south. Vega, closest to the zenith is not in the band. Actually all the stars we see with the naked eye or small telescopes belong to the Milky Way galaxy.
The times given are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan. They may be different for your location.

Addendum

The constellations Lyra, Cygnus and Aquila

Looking at the stars of the Summer Triangle and their location in and near the Milky Way band. Created using Stellarium.

06/22/2017 – Ephemeris – Now that it’s summer, lets check out the Summer Triangle

June 22, 2017 1 comment

Ephemeris for Thursday, June 22nd. Today the Sun will be up for 15 hours and 33 minutes, setting at 9:31, and it will rise tomorrow at 5:57. The Moon, 1 day before new, will rise at 5:45 tomorrow morning.

We’re a day into summer, and the asterism or informal constellation called the Summer Triangle can be seen rising in the east as it gets dark. Highest of the three bright stars is Vega in the constellation Lyra the harp, whose body is seen in a narrow parallelogram nearby. The second star of the triangle is Deneb lower and left of Vega, It appears dimmer than Vega because it is by far the most distant of the three. The third star of the Summer Triangle is seen farther below and a right of Vega. It is Altair in Aquila the eagle, and the closest. Altair is 16.5 light years away, Vega is 27 light years while Deneb may be a whopping 2600 light years away. One light year is 6 trillion miles (9 trillion km).

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.

08/01/2016 – Ephemeris – Previewing August skies

August 1, 2016 Comments off

Ephemeris for Monday, August 1st.  The Sun rises at 6:29.  It’ll be up for 14 hours and 38 minutes, setting at 9:07.  The Moon, 1 day before new, will rise at 6:19 tomorrow morning.

Let’s look ahead at the month of August in the skies.  Daylight hours will decrease from 14 hours and 38 minutes today to 13 hours 15 minutes on the 31st.  The altitude of the sun at local noon, that is degrees of angle above the horizon will decrease from 63 degrees today to just over 53 degrees on the 31st.  Straits area listeners can subtract one more degree from those angles.  Local noon, when the sun is due south, is about 1:43 p.m.  The big event of the month will be in the early morning sky:  The Perseid meteor shower will reach its peak on Friday morning the 12th.  However you’ll have to wait until after 1:30 a.m. for the moon to set.  But that will allow viewing of the shower up to 3 hours of the peak.  I’ll have more then.

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

Addendum

August Star Chart

August 2016 Star Chart

Star Chart for August 2016. Created using my LookingUp program. To enlarge in Firefox right-click on image then click View image.

The planets and stars are plotted for the 15th at 10 p.m. EDT.  That is chart time.  Note, Traverse City is located approximately 45 minutes behind our time meridian.  (An hour 45 minutes behind our daylight saving time meridian.) To duplicate the star positions on a planisphere you may have to set it to 1:45 earlier than the current time if you are near your time meridian.

Evening nautical twilight ends at 10:23 p.m. EDT on the 1st, increasing to 9:26 p.m. EDT on the 31st.

Morning nautical twilight starts at 5:14 a.m. EDT on the 1st, and decreasing to 5:58 a.m. EDT on the 31st.

Add a half hour to the chart time every week before the 15th and subtract a half hour for every week after the 15th.  Before the 13th also subtract an hour for Standard Time.

For a list of constellation names to go with the abbreviations click here.

  • Pointer stars at the front of the bowl of the Big Dipper point to Polaris the North Star
  • Follow the arc of the handle of the Big Dipper to the star Arcturus
  • Extend the arc to a spike to point to Spica.
  • The Summer Triangle is outlined in red.  Vega in Lyra (Lyr), Deneb in Cygnus (Cyg) and Altair in Aquila (Aql).

Calendar of Planetary Events

Credit:  Sky Events Calendar by Fred Espenak and Sumit Dutta (NASA’s GSFC)

To generate your own calendar go to http://eclipse.gsfc.nasa.gov/SKYCAL/SKYCAL.html

Times are Eastern Time.

    Date    Time    Event
Aug 01  Mo       Venus: 15.3° E
    02  Tu 16:45 New Moon
    04  Th 02:19 Moon-Venus: 3.1° N
    04  Th 18:12 Moon-Mercury: 0.6° N
    05  Fr 03:48 Moon Ascending Node
    05  Fr 07:57 Venus-Regulus: 1° N
    05  Fr 23:28 Moon-Jupiter: 0.2° N
    09  Tu 20:05 Moon Apogee: 404300 km
    10  We 14:21 First Quarter
    12  Fr 08:10 Moon-Saturn: 4° S
    12  Fr 08:26 Perseid Shower: ZHR = 90
    14  Su 09:05 Moon South Dec.: 18.5° S
    16  Tu 16:59 Mercury Elongation: 27.4° E
    18  Th 05:27 Full Moon
    19  Fr 10:14 Moon Descending Node
    20  Sa 01:34 Mercury-Jupiter: 3.8° N
    21  Su 21:20 Moon Perigee: 367000 km
    24  We 01:09 Mars-Antares: 1.8° N
    24  We 21:11 Mars-Saturn: 4.3° N
    24  We 23:41 Last Quarter
    25  Th 12:21 Moon-Aldebaran: 0.2° S
    27  Sa 07:17 Moon North Dec.: 18.5° N
    27  Sa 17:53 Venus-Jupiter: 0.1° N
    28  Su 16:09 Mercury-Venus: 5° N
Sep 01  Th       Venus: 23.5° E