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Posts Tagged ‘Ursa Major’

04/28/2022 – Ephemeris – The story of Arcas and Callisto

April 28, 2022 Comments off

This is Bob Moler with Ephemeris for Thursday, April 28th. Today the Sun will be up for 14 hours and 6 minutes, setting at 8:44, and it will rise tomorrow at 6:35. The Moon, 2 days before new, will rise at 6:16 tomorrow morning.

Appearing in the eastern sky at 10 p.m. tonight is the kite shaped constellation of Boötes the herdsman. The bright star Arcturus is at the bottom of the kite which is horizontal to the left, pointed to by the arc of the handle of the Big Dipper, higher in the east. The Big Dipper is the hind end of the constellation Ursa Major, the Great Bear. In one story, Boötes represents a young hunter named Arcas, son of Callisto, a beautiful young woman who had the misfortune of being loved by god Zeus. Zeus’ wife, Hera, found out about the affair, and since she couldn’t punish Zeus, turned the poor woman into a bear. Arcas, many years later, unaware of why his mother disappeared, was about to kill the bear when Zeus intervened and placed them both in the sky, where he continues to chase her across the sky nightly.

The astronomical event times given are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan (EDT, UT – 4 hours). They may be different for your location.

Addendum

Arcas and Callisto

Boötes and Ursa Major aka Arcas chasing Callisto around the pole of the sky. Created using Stellarium.

Arcas and Callisto woodcut

Arcas about to slay the bear by the 17th century artist Baur. Source: University of Virginia Electronic Text Center

03/28/2022 – Ephemeris – Finding the Great Bear

March 28, 2022 Comments off

This is Ephemeris for Monday, March 28th. Today the Sun will be up for 12 hours and 34 minutes, setting at 8:05, and it will rise tomorrow at 7:29. The Moon, 3 days past last quarter, will rise at 6:47 tomorrow morning.

The Big Dipper is now reaching for the zenith in the northeast at 10 p.m. The seven bright stars are second to Orion in the west as the seven brightest stars in a constellation. If you looked up a list of constellations, you’d find that the Big Dipper isn’t there. Ursa Major or the Great Bear is the constellation of which the Big Dipper is a part. The seven bright stars of the dipper are the rump and long tail of this constellation. The rest of the bear, including his head and legs, are delineated by dimmer stars. An anatomical problem is its long tail, which was drawn in by the ancients of the old world. Their explanation was that a god had grabbed the bear’s stubby tail, whirled the bear around his head, and threw it into the sky, thus stretching its tail.

The astronomical event times given are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan (EDT, UT – 4 hours). They may be different for your location.

Addendum

Great Bear Finder animation

The Great Bear (Ursa Major) finder animation. It shows the stars only, then the Big Dipper, Then the lines of the constellations Ursa Major and Ursa Minor (Lesser Bear and Little Dipper) as a bonus, and finally the constellation artwork. The orientation is for about 9:30 pm on the latter days of March. We are looking high in the northeast. In Northern Michigan, the bear’s front paw is near the zenith at that time. Created using Stellarium and GIMP.

03/21/2022 – Ephemeris – Finding the celestial lion

March 21, 2022 Comments off

This is Ephemeris for Monday, March 21st. Today the Sun will be up for 12 hours and 12 minutes, setting at 7:56, and it will rise tomorrow at 7:42. The Moon, 3 days past full, will rise at 12:15 tomorrow morning.

At 10 p.m. the spring constellation of Leo the lion will be fairly high in the southeast. It can be found by locating the Big Dipper high in the northeast and imagining that a hole were drilled in the bowl to let the water leak out. It would drip on the back of this giant cat. The Lion is standing or lying facing westward. His head and mane are seen in the stars as a backwards question mark. This group of stars is also called the Sickle. The bright star Regulus is at the bottom, the dot at the bottom of the question mark. A triangle of stars, to the left of Regulus, is the lion’s haunches. Leo contains some nice galaxies visible in moderate sized telescopes. The stars in Leo’s part of the sky are fewer than those in the winter sky.

The astronomical event times given are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan (EDT, UT – 4 hours). They may be different for your location.

Addendum

Leaky Dipper drips on Leo

Leaky Big Dipper drips on Leo. The positions in the sky are for 10 pm local time, or about 2 hours after sunset. The little distorted cross at the top of the image marks the zenith. Look high in the east and southeast to see these stars. Created using my LookingUp program, GIMP and LibreOffice.

03/07/2022 – Ephemeris – The Fisher announces the beginning of the Maple sugaring season

March 7, 2022 Comments off

This is Ephemeris for Monday, March 7th. Today the Sun will be up for 11 hours and 28 minutes, setting at 6:38, and it will rise tomorrow at 7:07. The Moon, 3 days before first quarter, will set at 12:19 tomorrow morning.

March is a month of transitions. The stars of the winter skies, that is Orion and his merry band of bright stars, move to the west as those of spring rise in the east. The Big Dipper is ascending in the northeastern sky, after lying low in the north during the long dark evenings in the heart of winter. The dipper is the hind end of the Great Bear, officially Ursa Major. The Anishinaabe peoples of the Great Lakes region saw the Big Dipper as the hind end and tail of a magical creature called Fisher, or in their language Ojiig, who brought summer to the Earth. Its position in the sky around the pole announces the seasons. The Fisher’s ascension high into the northeastern sky signals this month’s maple sugaring season.

The astronomical event times given are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan (EST, UT – 5 hours). They may be different for your location.

Addendum

Fisher announcing maple sugaring season - animation

The Fisher announcing maple sugaring season – animation. Star positions for about 2 hours after sunset, near 45 degrees north latitude, for a week into March. Created using Stellarium and GIMP.

For the story of how the Fisher brought summer to the earth, and why he’s got an arrow sticking into his tail, click here.

06/03/2021 – Ephemeris – Arcturus in the Bible.

June 3, 2021 Comments off

This is Ephemeris for Thursday, June 3rd. Today the Sun will be up for 15 hours and 23 minutes, setting at 9:23, and it will rise tomorrow at 5:58. The Moon, 1 day past last quarter, will rise at 3:30 tomorrow morning.

Arcturus is a bright orangish star that’s high in the south at 11 pm. It’s also found by following the arc of the handle of the Big Dipper, which is the ridiculous tail of Ursa Major the Great Bear. It was considered the “Guardian of the Bear”, It is in the base of the kite shaped constellation of Boötes, the herdsman or the Bear Chaser. The latter story I recounted earlier this year. The name from the Greek has been confused with the bear itself. Thus, in the King James version of the Bible Arcturus, not the Bear, meaning the Great Bear, is mentioned in the 38th chapter of Job. This has been corrected in the newer versions I’ve seen. Arcturus has a rich history in literature, mostly by being confused with the Great Bear.

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

Addendum

Arcturus, Bootes and Ursa Major

Arcturus, Boötes and Ursa Major can be seen by looking overhead while facing the west-southwest at 11 pm in early June. Created using Stellarium. Lines and figures not included.

Biblical translations

King James Version of Job 38:31-32

31 Canst thou bind the sweet influences of Pleiades, 
   or loose the bands of Orion?

32 Canst thou bring forth Mazzaroth in his season?
   or canst thou guide Arcturus with his sons?

New International Version of Job 38:31-32

31 
“Can you bind the chains of the Pleiades?
Can you loosen Orion’s belt?
32 
Can you bring forth the constellations in their seasons
or lead out the Bear with its cubs?

No one is sure what a Mazzaroth is.

05/10/2021 – Ephemeris – The story of the constellations Boötes and Ursa Major

May 10, 2021 Comments off

This is Bob Moler with Ephemeris for Monday, May 10th. Today the Sun will be up for 14 hours and 38 minutes, setting at 8:58, and it will rise tomorrow at 6:18. The Moon, 1 day before new, will rise at 6:25 tomorrow morning.

Seen in the east at 10 p.m. tonight is the kite shaped constellation of Boötes the herdsman. The bright star Arcturus is at the bottom of the kite to the right. It is pointed to by the arc of the handle of the Big Dipper, higher in the east. Boötes represents a young hunter named Arcas, son of Callisto, a beautiful young lady who had the misfortune of being loved by Zeus the chief of the Greek gods. Zeus’ wife Hera, found out about it, and since she couldn’t punish Zeus, turned the poor woman into a bear. Arcas, many years later, unaware of the events surrounding his mother’s disappearance was about to kill the bear when Zeus intervened and placed them both in the sky to save her, as Arcas still pursues her across the sky nightly.

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

Addendum

Arcas and Callisto as Boötes and Ursa Major
Bootes and Ursa Major aka Arcas chasing Callisto around the pole of the sky. Created using Stellarium.
Arcas and Callisto woodcut
Arcas about to slay the bear by the 17th century artist Baur. Source: University of Virginia Electronic Text Center

04/08/2021 – Ephemeris – Ursa Major, the Great Bear

April 8, 2021 Comments off

This is Bob Moler with Ephemeris for Thursday, April 8th. Today the Sun will be up for 13 hours and 9 minutes, setting at 8:19, and it will rise tomorrow at 7:08. The Moon, 3 days before new, will rise at 6:37 tomorrow morning. | The constellation of Ursa Major, or great bear was well-known to the ancient Greeks and Native Americans. Today, however, many of us can recognize only part of it as the Big Dipper. The whole bear can be easily seen only in a dark sky. At 10 pm it’s high in the northeast with feet to the south. The stars in front of the bowl are the front part of his body and head. The bowl of the Big Dipper is his rump, and the handle his long tail. The Native Americans, saw those three stars as three hunters following the bear. The Anishinaabe tribes of the Great Lakes region saw it as the Fisher or Ojiig, who brought summer to the Earth. These stars here do make a convincing bear, except for the tail, when seen on a dark night. However, the weasel-like Fisher fits the stars completely.

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

Addendum

Ursa Major andOjiig animation
An animation to visualize the Great Bear, Ursa Major and the Fisher, Ojiig, from the stars of and around the Big Dipper. Created using Stellarium.

03/11/2021 – Ephemeris – The Guardian of the Bear is rising

March 11, 2021 Comments off

This is Ephemeris for Thursday, March 11th. Today the Sun will be up for 11 hours and 42 minutes, setting at 6:44, and it will rise tomorrow at 7:00. The Moon, 2 days before new, will rise at 7:09 tomorrow morning.

The brightest star of spring is Arcturus which will be visible by 9 pm low in the east-northeast. Arcturus can most famously be found by following the arc of the handle of the Big Dipper, which resides fairly high in the northeastern sky to it. “Follow the arc of the handle to Arcturus.” It’s the fourth or fifth brightest star in the sky, depending on the list. It was regarded as the “Guardian of the Bear”, meaning the Great Bear, Ursa Major, of which the Big Dipper is its hind end. Apparently it’s guarding its rear. Arcturus will stay in our evening sky until the end of summer and has a fascinating story of its own aside from its ancient mythology, which I’ll talk about when it’s higher in the sky. It’s located at the base of a kite shaped constellation called Boötes, which is now horizontal and too close to the horizon to be appreciated.

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

Addendum

Arcturus rising finder animation

Arcturus rising finder animation for 9 pm tonight, March 11, 2021. Created using Stellarium and GIMP.

04/24/2020 – Ephemeris – The Big Dipper can be used to point to other stars and constellations

April 24, 2020 Comments off

This is Bob Moler with Ephemeris for Arbor Day, Friday, April 24th. Today the Sun will be up for 13 hours and 57 minutes, setting at 8:39, and it will rise tomorrow at 6:41. The Moon, 2 days past new, will set at 10:21 this evening.

The Big Dipper can be used to point 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. You can remember these stars with the phrase “Follow the arc of the handle to Arcturus and then spike to Spica” or if you prefer the alternate pronunciation of the latter star “Speak to Speeka”.

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

Addendum

Finding stars and constellations using the Big Dipper

Finding stars and constellations using the Big Dipper. Click on the image to enlarge. Created using my LookingUp program for Windows.

04/13/2020 – Ephemeris – The story of Callisto and Arcas or Ursa Major and Boötes

April 13, 2020 Comments off

This is Ephemeris for Monday, April 13th. Today the Sun will be up for 13 hours and 25 minutes, setting at 8:26, and it will rise tomorrow at 6:59. The Moon, 1 day before last quarter, will rise at 3:09 tomorrow morning.

Appearing mid way up the sky in the east at 10 p.m. is the kite shaped constellation of Boötes the herdsman. The bright star Arcturus is at the bottom-right of the kite, pointed to by the arc of the handle of the Big Dipper, above it. In one Greek myth Boötes represents a young hunter named Arcas, son of Callisto, a beautiful young lady who had the misfortune of being loved by Zeus the chief of the Greek gods. Zeus’ wife Hera, found out about the affair, and since she couldn’t punish Zeus, turned the poor woman into an ugly bear. Arcas, unaware of the events surrounding his mother’s disappearance in his youth was about to kill the bear when Zeus intervened and placed them both in the sky to save her. To this day Boötes continues to chase the Great Bear, Ursa Major, around the pole of the sky each night.

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

Addendum

Arcas and Callisto

Bootes and Ursa Major aka Arcas chasing Callisto around the pole of the sky. Created using Stellarium.

Arcas and Callisto woodcut

Arcas about to slay the bear by the 17th century artist Baur. Source: University of Virginia Electronic Text Center