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Posts Tagged ‘the Kids’

12/10/2015 – Ephemeris – What’s a charioteer doing holding goats?

December 10, 2015 Comments off

Ephemeris for Thursday, December 10th.  The Sun will rise at 8:08.  It’ll be up for 8 hours and 53 minutes, setting at 5:02.   The Moon, 1 day before new, will rise at 7:59 tomorrow morning.

Rising now more than half way up the sky in the east at 9 p.m. will be the bright star Capella and its pentagonal constellation Auriga the Charioteer.  Auriga appears to be hunched down sideways in the sky in his chariot carrying 4 goats.  Capella is the mother goat, and a slim triangle of stars near her are her kids.  Perhaps the kids in the chariot were such a distraction that he crashed.  So maybe the gods placed them in the sky as a warning.   In fact that triangle is an asterism widely known as the Kids.  The Milky Way runs through Auriga and it is the home of several star clusters that appear as fuzzy spots in binoculars.  Capella for us in northern Michigan never sets.  It is a winter star that can be seen year round.  It’s disconcerting to spot it scraping the northern horizon in July.

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

Addendum

Auriga

Auriga and neighboring constellations for 9 p.m. December 10, 2015. Created using Stellarium and GIMP.

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12/18/2014 – Ephemeris – Capella’s kids

December 18, 2014 Comments off

Ephemeris for Thursday, December 18th.  The sun will rise at 8:14.  It’ll be up for 8 hours and 49 minutes, setting at 5:03.   The moon, 3 days before new, will rise at 5:23 tomorrow morning.

Tuesday I talked about the bright star Capella in the constellation Auriga the charioteer,  the brightest star in the eastern sky until Jupiter rises around 9:30.  I mentioned a slim triangle of stars called the Kids, offspring of the mama goat Capella.  The star at the tip of that slim triangle is designated by the Greek letter epsilon and so in known as Epsilon Aurigae.  It was discovered to be variable in brightness in 1821.  It turns out to be an eclipsing binary, where stars eclipse each other.  Only the period between eclipses is 27 years, and the eclipses last about 2 years.  Typical eclipsing binary stars have periods of days and the eclipses last hours.  The eclipsing star has a large debris ring around it that’s also eclipsing the other star.

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

Addendum

Capella and the Kids

Capella and her kids. at 9 p.m. December 18, 2014. Created using Stellarium.

12/16/2014 – Ephemeris – Capella, the winter star that won’t set

December 17, 2014 Comments off

Ephemeris for Tuesday, December 16th.  The Sun will rise at 8:13.  It’ll be up for 8 hours and 49 minutes, setting at 5:03.   The moon, 2 days past last quarter, will rise at 3:17 tomorrow morning.

The bright star Capella is the only winter star I mention in the summer that still can be seen in the evening.  That’s because it never sets for observers north of Ludington.  It’s a constant reminder that winter is always just around the corner.  Well this week it really is.  It’s the brightest star in the eastern sky at 8 p.m. and for some time thereafter until Jupiter rises.  Capella is in the constellation of Auriga the charioteer, a pentagonal constellation to my eyes.  Capella means, essentially mama goat.  Her three kids are the stars in a thin triangle to her right.  Capella is actually a very close binary star, where the stars are too close to be optically separated.  Breaking up the light with a spectroscope reveals its true nature.

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

Addendum

Capella in Auriga with Taurus

Capella in the constellation of Auriga at 9 p.m. on December 16, 2014. Created using Stellarium.

01/24/2014 – Ephemeris – The constellation of Auriga the charioteer

January 24, 2014 Comments off

Ephemeris for Friday, January 24th.  The sun will rise at 8:09.  It’ll be up for 9 hours and 30 minutes, setting at 5:40.   The moon, at last quarter today, will rise at 2:37 tomorrow morning.

The constellation Auriga the charioteer is nearly overhead at 9 p.m.  It is a pentagon of stars, with the brilliant star Capella at one of its corners.  Capella represents a she goat he’s carrying.  A narrow triangle of stars nearby Capella is her kids.  The Kids is an informal constellation or asterism.  Within and near that pentagon, binoculars and telescopes will find several star clusters, groups of hundreds of stars born in the clump we still see them in.  These star clusters will appear as fuzzy spots in binoculars.  One called M38 is near the center of the pentagon.  Another, M36 is to the east of it. Still another star cluster, M37, is farther east, just outside the pentagon.  The M designations come from Charles Messier who 2 centuries ago ran into them while looking for comets.

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

Addendum

Auriga

Auriga the charioteer with Taurus below. M38 here is called the Starfish Cluster, a name I am unfamiliar. Created using Stellarium.

10/27/11 – The Harbinger of Winter – Capella

October 27, 2011 Comments off

Thursday, October 27th.  The sun will rise at 8:13.  It’ll be up for 10 hours and 25 minutes, setting at 6:39.   The moon, 1 day past new, will set at 7:02 this evening.

A bright star called Capella has slowly been rising in the northeastern sky in the evenings for the past few months.  At 9 p.m. now it is low in the north northeast far below the letter “W” shaped constellation of Cassiopeia.  This winter Capella will be overhead the highest of winter’s seven brilliant first magnitude stars.  Capella never quite sets for anyone north of Ludington.  Due to its brightness, and being the closest first magnitude star to the pole Capella appears to move slowly as the earth rotates, and spends summer and autumn evenings close to the horizon.  In the sky Capella represents a mamma goat held on the shoulders of a charioteer.  There’s a thin triangle of three stars to Capella’s lower right.  It’s a group of stars called the Kids.  Her kids.

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

Addendum

Capella and the Kids in the early evening.  Created using Stellarium.

Capella and the Kids in the early evening. Created using Stellarium.