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07/14/2017 – Ephemeris – Constellations of the Summer Triangle II: Cygnus the swan

July 14, 2017 1 comment

Ephemeris for Friday, July 14th. Today the Sun will be up for 15 hours and 14 minutes, setting at 9:25, and it will rise tomorrow at 6:11. The Moon, 2 days before last quarter, will rise at 12:32 tomorrow morning.

Fairly high in the east at 11 p.m. Is the constellation of Cygnus the swan, flying south through the Milky Way. It is also called the Northern Cross. At the left, the tail of the swan or the head of the cross is the bright star Deneb, one of the stars of the Summer Triangle. The next star right is Sadr the intersection of the body and the wings of the swan seen in flight, or the intersection of the two pieces of the cross. There are two or three stars farther to the right that delineate the swan’s long neck or upright of the cross, that ends with the star Alberio in the beak of the swan or foot of the cross. The crosspiece of the cross extends to the stars on either side of the intersection star Sadr, while the swan’s wings extend to a couple more stars each.

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.

Cygnus finder animation

Animated Cygnus finder chart. Created using Stellarium.

In mythology Cygnus was the form Zeus took in the Leda and the swan affair.  Out of that union was born Pollux of Gemini fame.  His half-brother and twin Castor was fathered by a mere mortal.  Go here for their story.

Alberio is the star that shows in Cygnus’ eye.  In telescopes of even low power Alberio shows as a binary star whose components are distinctly and beautiful blue and gold.  Binoculars are not quite powerful enough to split these two.

08/04/2015 – Ephemeris – Is it a swan or a cross?

August 4, 2015 Comments off

Ephemeris for Tuesday, August 4th.  The Sun rises at 6:32.  It’ll be up for 14 hours and 32 minutes, setting at 9:04.   The Moon, 2 days before last quarter, will rise at 11:33 this evening.

High in the east northeast as it gets dark flies the constellation of Cygnus the swan.  This constellation is also known as the Northern Cross.  The cross is seen lying on its side with the bright star Deneb at the head of the cross to the left.  The rest of the cross is delineated in the stars to the right.  As a swan, Deneb is the tail, the stars of the crosspiece of the cross are part of the leading edges of the wings as Cygnus flies south through the Milky Way.  There are faint stars that also define the tips and trailing edges of its wings.  It is a very good portrayal of a flying swan, like the mute swans we see on the wing in our area.  This is the form the Greek god Zeus took to seduce the maiden Leda in the Leda and the swan affair, out of whose union Pollux was born, who was the twin of Castor, both of whom are also in the stars as the constellation Gemini.  In Cygnus we are looking toward the direction that the Sun and the Earth are traveling as we orbit the center of the Milky Way.

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

Addendum

CygnusTheSwan Created using Stellarium.

Cygnus The Swan Created using Stellarium.

Note for telescope owners:  The star that appears in the eye of the swan image above is Alberio (β Cygni), which splits into a beautiful binary star, whose component  stars are blue and gold.  It takes a bit more magnification than a pair of binoculars provides.

Note also the mythological citation in the program was omitted from the broadcast version due to time constraints.